The Kids Are Not All Right

Letters from the week of August 8, 2002

Juvenile Injustice

The young and the restless: I truly applaud you for writing such a great article about the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections ("The Hanging," Amy Silverman, July 25). I have been a teacher at Adobe Mountain School for more than four years and know full well what Margaret Leon is talking about.

I do certainly hope you are able to get the people of this state to notice and take an interest in what is going on here, but I don't feel very hopeful. Just today, I was talking to someone and told him where I work. He commended me for the work I do and said how much he appreciated it, hoping that my work will keep "them" from stealing his car or breaking into his home. Unfortunately, I think this is the typical mindset of the average citizen; that if "they" are locked up, so much the better!

What these people do not realize is that ADJC can only hold them up to their 18th birthday, and what do you think will happen to them then? These kids are not being rehabilitated, they are getting no counseling and are being released as more volatile, legal adults! Out of sight, out of mind does not work when you're dealing with human lives.

Also, there appears to be a great animosity toward education at ADJC. I think it is because there are still a lot of old Department of Corrections people working here and they still have the old belief that these kids are criminals and do not deserve anything. In the adult system, education is seen as a privilege. Before ADJC broke with DOC, I was told by one of the "old timers" that the kids did not have to go to school and could actually be denied education if they were "bad." I have helped more than 100 kids get their GEDs and have copies of every one of them in a binder I call my "Brag Book."

I know several of these kids have ended up in the adult system and, worse yet, a few of them have died violent deaths. When ADJC reports about its "successes," it includes these kids. After all, they have not been readjudicated!

Thank you for writing about the kids no one else cares about, and please keep it up. Maybe someday, someone will listen.

Name withheld by request

Legal Affair

Klahr at the Bar: The July 25 letter claiming I have not vigorously represented juveniles in my legal career aimed at the wrong target. Even my strongest critics have never questioned my dedication to my juvenile clients. At a recent Bar hearing, the presiding Juvenile judge, Maurice Portley, and no less than five other Juvenile judges and commissioners appeared as character witnesses for me.

I believe in "tough love" and do not encourage juveniles to try to "defend the indefensible." I was the leader in this community in pushing community service and restitution requirements — but I have also prevented hundreds of kids from being locked up when that was not necessary.

As for my managerial skills, no one has ever been disbarred before merely for deficiencies in that area. And I have already stated I have no intention of applying for reinstatement in a corrupt Bar — in five years or ever!

Gary Peter Klahr
Phoenix

Book Review

Point of contention: I cannot help but be mystified by your vituperative column regarding the success of Laurie Notaro's recent book, The Idiot Girls' Action-Adventure Club (Spiked, July 25). I suppose The Spike's pledge of allegiance to Guinness, "and to the hangover for which it stands," is more satisfying "pabulum" to the intellectual giants and protectors of taste at New Times. Forgive me if I fail to see the brilliance that is apparently supposed to be endemic in a gossip/trash column as opposed to a humor column. But I guess the joke will be on me when I see a collection of "Spikes" on The New York Times Bestseller List. "So junior high."

Jackson Fleischman
Tempe

Natural Woman

Diet delight: You're killin' me! I'm at work right now and dying laughing! I cannot remember a funnier or more well-written article ("Severe Grain Damage," Carey Sweet, June 27). I have passed it on to my worried co-workers who all came over to my desk to see what the gasping and wheezing was all about from my laughter. I am an advocate of Alkalarianism and Alkalarian food, not necessarily a raw foodist, but what made your article so funny is the little truths in it. Well done and thank you!

Chris LaPrath
Phoenix

Food infatuation: I am afraid that Charles Thomas Mort is suffering from PAD — Pretentious Affected Disorder (Letters, July 25). Eat a burger, Chucky, and get a life!

Terri J. Boaz
Tempe

Cocktail Chatter

Local hero: We have followed Robrt L. Pela's theater reviews forever (it seems). But he has taken "Lush Life" over the top! Thanks for some of the most entertaining reporting we've read in years!

Dan Otero
Scottsdale

 
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