Pubdate: Sun, 20 Apr 2003
Source: News & Observer (NC)
Copyright: 2003 The News and Observer Publishing Company
Author: Don Taylor


Al Singer's piece on your April 13 Op-ed page was a voice crying in the 
wilderness. Juvenile delinquency continues to be ignored while we pour 
billions of dollars into "fighting crime" and the "war on drugs." Somehow 
it is more politically popular to build prisons than it to try to do 
something about the breeding grounds of criminality. It this state we are 
steering toward a policy of deinstitutionalizing populations in need of 
care and treatment under the guise of offering better options through 
community services and programs. What we do, though, is take the money and 
run to the nearest pork-barrel boondoggle, reserving a mite of the spoils 
to fund some new state plan or study commission. Community-based 
intervention, whether in mental health or juvenile delinquency, is almost 
always preferable to institutional care, but such services cost money too 
and require strong community and political support.

Along with our appreciation and admiration for their struggle, Singer and 
those on the front lines of community service deserve more support and 
better funding. Unfortunately, they probably won't get it -- unless they 
propose a new, expensive high-rise prison for delinquents in an area that 
needs a quick fix for a foundering economy.

Don Taylor

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