22
Jun
14

could we be wrong?

british flag
One of the things which has astounded me since starting this blog is the tremendous amount of attention it attracts from other parts of the world. A part of this is anti-Americanism; America is that place in the world, it seems, that everybody loves to hate.
At the same time, there is an irresistible attraction that the ideals of America seem to have for others. Even though they know the American dream is a fraud, it seems the rest of the world wants it to be true.
So it is with youth justice.
One of my keenest supporters is an Englishman living in the US. He helps to keep me grounded in what is “normal” in the world beyond the boundaries of the US.
Here is his latest email to me. It has really gotten me to thinking:
“The latest youth custody report shows that there are 1,197 kids in custody in England and Wales.  That is out of a population of 58 million, of whom 4.5 million are 12-18.
“No juvenile is held in adult prison, and if their sentence extends only a short period beyond 18th birthday, they are retained in the juvenile system.
“That is 0.002% of the total national population.  Extrapolated to the USA, it would be 6,460 kids in custody nationwide.   The actual number in the USA (2011) is 61,000, excluding those charged as adults. (My emphasis.)
“The attached pdf gives immense detail on the system and statistics.  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/youth-justice-statistics
“British kids are not all angels with cute accents.  But they are not locked up as much.”

۞

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7 Responses to “could we be wrong?”


  1. 1 Ronnie Savill
    June 22, 2014 at 1:49 am

    Dan did your friend tell you of the latest recommendation from Parliament a group if MPs and Lords have said that the criminal records of all young people should be wiped at the age of 18 as long as they don’t reoffend to give them the maximum chance at starting a new life fresh. So they have no criminal record when they enter the system for jobs housing schooling etc. it’s a recommendation currently that will happen before too much longer.

    I’ve thought regularly it’s such a shame Alex and Derek couldn’t come to the UK. They really would be able to have a fresh start here.

    America really is a tremendous country Dan but I think it’s politicians are increasingly failing their people. Particularly from the GOP and Tea Party. A lot of Republican politicians just come across here in the UK and especially in Europe as a bunch of stupid old farts. Mitt Romney is a prime example. In 2012 when he was running for the Presidency he came to the UK and had just got off the plane when he managed to insult everyone in the UK. That was over the London Olympics. The Republicans keep emphasising how much they value the alliance with the UK but they give out the vibe that they really look down on the UK at the same time.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  2. June 22, 2014 at 3:50 am

    Dan, the thing is that the entire world would love America to be what (most) Americans believe it is. Sadly, America’s own actions, around the world, prove the opposite. What you may believe is “bringing peace and democracy” to some country/region, is in fact bringing destruction, terror, dictatorship and slavery. If you believe the world is “anti-American”, perhaps it’s time to ask if, actually, America is anti-world? No place in the world has become better since America interfered, no crisis has ever been resolved, the conflicts are even greater and American army is still there. I don’t remember democracy ever requiring so much firepower. I mean, if things were so great, people would not be resisting. But… The “American dream” has never been about one achieving what’s good for oneself, but what’s good for America. And the world is waking up from that dream. Remains to be seen if it’s too late.

    And it does seem like American children would be far better off anywhere in Europe. There are some huge issues here as well and the UK acts pretty much the same as USA, but this idea of clearing records could be a good one. Though, perhaps the entire record should be made available if a crime is commited again, after the age of 18? I would also add laws which would include responsibility for people sentencing the kids and being in charge of their.. correction. If we know which doctors have a bad history of dealing with patients, we should also know which people have a bad history of correcting the kids. Every system must have goals, milestones and checks to monitor and track events/results. It’s the only way to improve any system. If I’m not mistaken.

  3. 3 Michael T
    June 23, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    That ratio between the youth incarceration rate in the US, compared with England and Wales, extends into the prison population as a whole.

    The US has the highest overall incarceration rate in the world at 707 per 100,000 inhabitants, compared with 148 in England and Wales., 51 in Japan it is 51 and 60 in Sweden. Even in countries like China and Russia, a far smaller proportion of the population is locked up.

    Clearly, our solution isn’t working, unless you happen to be an investor in the private prison industry. Besides the blatant injustice, the drain on our national economy is incalculable.

    • June 23, 2014 at 2:55 pm

      I find your phrasing “Even in countries like China and Russia” quite interesting. I guess you expect these countries to be worse? And when you get direct evidence to the contrary, do you change your stand or still feel the same about them?

      I absolutely mean no offense but 10+ times more people (and kids!) in prisons is not some minor glitch. It shows some really serious problems in every aspect of life. In terms of computer programming – it’s not a bug, it’s a feature. And every feature is (carefully) planned and implemented for a reason. Obviously, the reason here is not to give people freedom. I mean.. almost every Hollywood movie has that “justice for all” and “the land of the free” and yet – you take freedom (and justice) away from your own people at the rate 10 times higher than others? Using that fact alone, can you even begin to imagine how you treat other nations? Especially those unable to defend themselves (in terms of weaponry, economy or marketing)? Scary.

      • 5 Michael T
        June 24, 2014 at 12:06 pm

        By saying “even China and Russia,” I am simply pointing out how reality doesn’t jibe with common public perception.

        I’m not sure what you mean by “change my stand.” It’s pretty clear from my statement that I’m on the same page that you are.

        Please don’t just assume that all Americans support the US justice system and foreign policy as it stands, and that just by being from some other country, you are somehow automatically morally superior. The mere existence of this blog should make that abundantly clear.

  4. 6 peterloudon
    June 23, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    I have been watching this post with interest, and notice that the usual “foreign” suspects are commenting. I agree with much that is said in the comments, but, for a change, I disagree with you, Dan.

    I do not think the attention is mainly or even significantly “anti-Americanism”. This goes even more so for the comments.

    I think most of us know that “The American Dream” was a dream of men who are now dead. The population they have left behind has been softened in great measure by the benefits of that dream. The citizens of the USA, in the majority, are no longer pioneering people of strength any more than the people of the UK are people who could go out and rebuild The Empire. This latter point is abundantly illustrated by Tony Blair apologising for colonialism (did he ever colonise his garden) and then David Cameron apologising for the weather last Christmas. Neither person had any hand in or control over what he apologised for.

    What is left as the American Dream is a lie. More accurately it is an unstable conglomeration of bubbles which, when they burst, will go like dominoes, affecting the whole world.

    Those of us foreigners who do come to this blog want a better deal for American kids, and a better deal for ordinary Americans. We do not hate you or your country. We wish you would take your industries back onshore and build up your middle class.

    But more than anything, we wish your politicians and powerful businessmen would constrain themselves to their mandates and to their budgets. Administer (don’t rule) America, in the interests of all its people and all its neighbours.

    There is no “anti” in that.

  5. June 24, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    @MichaelT The “even” part implied your agreement with the common perception (and expectation) of them being worse. And no, I don’t believe being (non)American makes one better or worse. I wish it was that easy. 🙂


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