Friday, October 5, 2007


This effects us all, a must read-


Columnist Mark McCormick reported that there's a shortage of juvenile correction officers ("Do juvenile offenders get enough help?" Sept. 30 Local & State). That's not the problem.

There are too many kids under state control, in systems designed to fail, produced by politicians eager to pretend to help society while actually preying upon it.

The basic problem is that Kansas is much too eager to arrest, prosecute and seize control of children. It's the same as the problem with the child protection system. Control freaks from the governor on down to the average voter have made Kansas one of the most aggressive and reckless states in the nation for intervening forcibly in the lives of young people.

Our Kansas politicians, liberal and conservative alike, acting through state government, cannot resist the temptation to exert unnecessary (and often unreasonable and destructive) control over others without real, analytical, sober regard to cost or outcomes.

The Kansas child-control industry -- juvenile "justice" and child "protection" -- has a long history of over-intervening in the lives of children, at a rate higher (often much higher) than the national average. Current data from the renowned Kids Count Data Book of the Annie E. Casey Foundation shows that Kansas fairly consistently ranks among the 15 states most likely to lock kids up, and clearly above the national average for placement in foster care.

This is further fueled by an entire industry of people-controllers (tens of thousands in Kansas alone) --judges, lawyers, court service officers, law enforcement officers, social workers, psychologists, wardens, jailers, prison builders, commercial foster care operations, and entire government agencies of bureaucrats. They all feed off the poor judgment and misfortune of the least powerful among us, mostly at taxpayer expense.

The result is children going from fair to bad to worse -- often in a system of amateurish mind games and incarcerations that leave a child much worse after the horrors of reckless state intervention than before it.

The No. 1 solution is a system of performance measures, based in scientific research. These must be applied to a set of rational, explicitly defined criteria that take into account all the costs of public intervention in children's lives -- including the massive cost borne by those in whose lives the intervention happens. Then apply these rational performance measures against all the government and private players who claim to be "beneficial" in their interventions -- rewarding the constructive and terminating the destructive.

At the core of the problem is a need for all of us -- voters, reporters, editors, social workers, law enforcement officers, bureaucrats, judges, legislators, governors -- to be more intellectually honest with ourselves and one another about what is and isn't reasonable, civilized, effective and constructive.

We need to discipline ourselves before we take too much control of others and destroy what we claim to be saving: the next generation of Kansans.

For replies on this story and it's original version [which I've copied word for word]

Click here- 10/04/2007 RICHARD HARRIS: TOO MANY KANSAS KIDS ARE UNDER STATE CONTROL#recent_comm#recent_comm

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