While concern about children's safety on school grounds and on school buses is important, making felons out of school children as a way to enforce discipline in school - and especially while making public education mandatory - is not such a good idea.
I am not going to claim that "boys will be boys" from the point of view that fighting is a good way to resolve conflicts.
But, I am going to claim that boys will be boys, that aggression is natural in the growing human being, that it may be caused by hormones, that it is natural to predict a certain amount of physical fighting among school kids - and that trying kids as adults and slapping kids with adult charges and adult felony sentences, including a felony record and a matching forfeiture of basic civil rights, such as a right to vote, a right to be employed and earn a living, and a right to education (try getting into a college with a felony record) is an admission that the school personnel is unable to maintain proper discipline in school - and then, that parents cannot be forced, and charged if they resist, to send children into schools, places where violence is so bad and so uncontrollable that only adult felony sentences can resolve the situation.
Moreover, statistics exists indicating that upping the stakes, from misdemeanor to a felony, does not actually deter violence.
What it does is it ups the stake for criminal defendants in litigation, makes defense - and minors are defended at taxpayers' expense - more expensive, because now it includes grand jury proceedings, and because risks and adverse consequences for a defendant in such proceedings is much higher than in misdemeanor proceedings.
All the players who introduced and enacted that bill know all of these facts very well, so why was the bill introduced?
Of course, it had to involve somebody who pounded his chest to electors in claims of being "tough on crime", and using shattered lives of school students as a stepping stone in their careers. Happens all the time.
But, in addition, a sticky question arises - was upping the inevitable fights on school grounds and in school buses of hormone-driven youngsters from a misdemeanor to a felony done as a bargain with the for-profit prison complex - to supply young healthy strong slaves for the for-profit prisons?
There are two ways for the for-profit prison industry to profit from its prisons:
1) slave labor of prisoners who are paid times less than the minimal wage - if they are paid at all - and thus allow for-profit corporations to sink their competitors with low prices for their products;
2) being reimbursed by counties - as it happened in the Kids for Cash case in Pennsylvania - for every "head" of a juvenile sent to the juvenile "correctional facility".
In the Kids for Cash scandal judges were caught receiving kickbacks for sentencing kids, without counsel, to time in a for-profit prison.
Attorneys who definitely knew about the corrupt scheme - for years - were afraid to peep a word to authorities, because of fear of retaliation from the judiciary who can take attorneys' licenses and livelihood if they "step out of line".
Missouri was already sued for "barbaric conditions" in their for-profit juvenile facilities.
And, after the lawsuit, Missouri now claims that it has revamped the system of incarceration of juvenile offenders, allegedly focusing on their rehabilitation close to home.
Yet, sentencing kids for felonies now, whether they go to juvenile or adult prisons, serves for-profit industry both ways:
1) both as young and strong slaves for in-prison production;
2) by providing overpriced services to prison population who have no alternative to such overpriced services; and
3) as "heads" of cattle for whom for-profit prisons will get reimbursements from counties for a longer period of time for felony sentences than for misdemeanors;
4) providing employment for a vast number of prison personnel - from guards to "counselors" to cooks to cleaners - to executives.
Any parent who has ever asked a school for videotapes or access to witnesses of accidents or fights on school grounds, will always face stonewalling - videos will be claimed to have been lost or written over, and access to witnesses will be blocked by the school's insurance company. Happened to me all the way when I was suing schools on behalf of students. As a result, my child became a target in a school I sued on behalf of another child, and we had to remove the child not only from the school, but from the state entirely.
Yet, the school is acting "in loco parentis" (in the position of a parent) for the child - but, instead of acting in the best interest of the child, the school blocks the child's real parents from access to evidence of what really occurs, and usually exposes the child to police interrogation by waiving its right to counsel.
So, parents, under the threat of criminal prosecution or civil adjudication for "educational neglect", must place their children into the inherently unsafe situation - where schools admit that they cannot control violence on school grounds and school buses to the point of having school fights among kids qualified as felonies, and where schools likely have an interest and a connection with the for-profit prison industry in supplying the necessary number of "heads" to secure profits, and by waiving the child's right to counsel, acting on behalf of the child "in loco parentis" and waiving his right to an attorney.
At the same time, parents will be blocked from evidence of those alleged felonies by schools whose officials, most likely, will have a cut from the for-profit prison industry for filling for-profit prisons with "heads" for which counties will pay, for a longer period of time than for misdemeanors.
And, conditions in juvenile prisons, where children are supposed to "rehabilitate" and not be violent, are more violent than outside - so the only concern of the for-prison industry is for money per head of incarcerated youth, and not about that youth rehabilitation and safety.
And, when the drive is to maximize profit, no claims of "revamping" the juvenile prison system will help.
The for-profit prison system lost money on revamping its juvenile prison - now it will get that money back, in droves, by having secured "heads" of incarcerated kids, secured for longer periods of time.
What that legislation will do to
- school safety;
- kids sentenced as felons;
- taxpayers who have to pay through their noses for criminal defense in felony cases, which is more expensive than in misdemeanor cases,
The eyes of the players are towards the bottom-line.
Is it only me who thinks that what is going on in Missouri smacks of disgusting corruption?