should be public

Let’s call it how it is. Today’s juvenile misdeeds are serious crimes, not mere “offenses.” All juvenile cases should be open to the public.

Juvenile’s names are protected from media publication. Juvenile courts aren’t charged to punish young offenders; rather to “correct” their illegal behavior. How does one “correct” a murder? “Correct” arson?

In an existing juvenile case, where the judge decided to process the youth as an adult, media reported the child allegedly stabbed his mother nine times with a Ka-Bar knife (he described it as useful to gut animals) and his father 13 times. Parents rendered lifeless.

Juvenile laws without teeth educate youth the wrong way. Furthermore, juvenile laws have caused even educated grown men and women possessing lawyer credentials and Maine Senate seats to abandon common sense.

An example is a Skowhegan juvenile who stole a truck and substantial personal property from residences, including a firearm and ammunition. He initially appeared in court with his mother on Friday at closing. The judge only had time to read the charges and decide what to do with the youth, pending a Monday hearing: either send him home or to the youth center for the weekend. Given he was then living at home, and to protect the public from further crime, he was ordered to the youth center for the weekend.

The Senate Judiciary Committee used that case to assure the judge hang up his robe. Ironically, voters later elected the judge to six years in the Senate; four on the same Judiciary Committee. I served with gratitude.

Juveniles who have committed crimes have forfeited secrecy across the board. They know the score. Their diapers are off.

John Benoit


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