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February 05, 1978 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1978-02-05

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Page 4-Sunday, February 5, 1978-The Michigan Daily
-Ii 3zhtgan 1 tI
Eighty-Eight Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Vol. LXXXVII, No. 105 News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

Kids, offenders and the State

Of guns and butter

T knocking at our door again, De-
fense Secretary Harold Brown pro-
claimed last Thursday as he requested
an additional $56 billion in appropria-
tions to the Pentagon over the next five
Soviet military technology may very
well merit some attention, but the sim-
ple truth is that inflation, unemploy-
ment and poverty are pressing this
country a little. bit harder right now
than are Communist missiles.
A year ago, the Carter administra-
tion set forth two priorities to be fol-
Mowed in ensuing months. Domestically,
,the President said he would make the
creation of jobs and abatement of in-
)flation his major goal. And Carter
'pledged he would work sincerely
toward the eventual elimination of the
Farms race. With the latest request from
tBrown, however, both priorities are
t The federal budget being as tight as
tit is, it does not take an economic
4analyst to tell us that the more money
niven to the military, the more will be
'taken from "flexible" areas like educa-
tion, health and urban programs. Im-
agine what could be done with that $56
billion if it were divided up and dis-
tributed to the country's major urban
areas. The money could be used direct-
ly - by cities like Detroit - to 'inject
new life into slums and generate new
employment on a local level. The De-
fense Secretary seems to have lost his
hold on the American conscience since
attaining his post; it is in fact the task
of government to protect its citizens
from aggression, but it can't starve the
population in its attempts to do so.

The Secretary's announcement that
the Department of Defense intends to
stay ahead of Soviet military advances
is itself disappointing. It is, apparently,
a quiet concession on the part of the
President that he really can't do any-
thing about the arms race. Instead of
boldly telling the Soviets that the U.S.
will no longer be a partner in such ac-
tivities, Carter now appears willing to
perpetuate the race.
"The world remains turbulent and
dangerous," Brown told a Congression-
al panel in Washington as he requested
the.new funds. Well, Mr. Secretary, the
streets of this country remain turbulent
and dangerous because of the inability
to secure enough funds for down-home
domestic improvements. As long as
money continues to be siphoned off into
the arms race, they will stay that way.

By Linda Willcox
Sitting beneath a framed facsimile of the Bill of Rights boldly stam-
ped in the center, "Void Where Prohibited By Law," State Represen-
tative Lynn Jondahl never stops working for the removal of "status of-
fenders" from court jurisdiction.
Status offenders are children who have committed no crimes, but
are punished for offenses which would be unprosecutable if the
children were of majority age. These offenses include running away
from home, truancy and "incorrigibility".
"ULTIMATELY, the only thing the court can do that the other in-
stitutions can't do is take away liberty," the energetic 42-year-old ex-
plains, leaning forward in a fatherly way.
Lois Scher, director of informational services for Washtenaw Coun-
ty Juvenile Court, doesn't see it quite the same way. "Our mandate is
to be looking after the kid when the people who should have been
giving the care didn't do such a hot job," she says.
But the state might not be doing such a "hot job" either. In 1975, the
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) found that of all the children
facing Michigan courts, one in four is a status offender. But 28 per cent
of these children are sent to some form of detention; only 18 per cent of
the juvenile offenders who had done everything from breaking and en-
tering to rape and murder were sent to detention'eenters.
LOOKING EVEN deeper, the ACLU discovered more. In addition to
being held more often, status offenders remain in detention longer, it
reports. These offenders, on the average, stay in these institutions at
least five months longer than their youthful criminal counterparts.
"As these youths may come from families having serious problems,
the parents are more likely to let the courts keep their children," the
ACLU explains.
Going still further, the ACLU tells us, "The younger a child enters
the Juvenile Justice system, the greater the chances that she or he will
be caught up in the crime cycle." As many as four of five youths in
detention in public or private facilities return to incarceration later.
Three of four adult offenders spent time in juvenile correctional
facilities, the ACLU says.
A truant or runaway in Washtenaw County facing the Juvenile Cou;t
in 1976 had a better than 50-50 chance of being detained. But only one of
five juveniles facing delinquency charges was detained that year.
BY PUTTING the status offenders with juvenile delinquents in the
children's version of prison, the courts subject them to all the ills of
prison life. The kids' version is no playtime; they face homosexuality,
physical abuse, social stigmas, and an intimate knowledge of the
criminal mind, says Kenneth Wooden, a children's rights activist.
Under the current code, established in 1944 and never revised,
almost anyone can file a complaint against a runaway, truant or in-
corrigible youth. Petitions are commonly filed by parents, social
workers, school administrators, relatives and sometimes by the kids,
themselves, says Scher.
Once the case is brought to the court's attention, she says a social
worker is assigned to devise a treatment plan. The kinds of problems
status offenders bring are "multi-interpersonal," she says. "The kid's
usually some kind of failure. These are not popular bright children
with everything going for them."
SADLY, SHE notes, "The treatment that we offer is not very dif-
ferent from what they could have gotten in the first place. There's




Managing Editors
EILEEN DALEY................ .......... University
LANI JORDAN...................City
LINDA WILLCOX.. .................Features/Projects
BARBARA ZAHS ............................. Personnel
Editorial Director
Sunday Magazine Editors
KATHY HENNEGHAN.....................Sports Editor
TOM CAMERON....................... Executive Sports Editor
SCOTT LEWIS..... .. .........Managing Sports Editor
DON MacLACHLAN................ Associate Sports Editor
JOHN NIEMEYER......... ...Contributing Sports Editor
NIGHT EDITORS: Paul Campbell. Ernie Dunbar, Henry Engel-
hardt, Jeff Frank, Gary Kicinski, Rick Maddock, Brian Mar-
tin, Bob Miller, Brian Miller,nDave Renbarger, Cub Schwartz,
Errol Shifman and Jamie Turner.

These children rebel,

in one way

or anot

her, against the Michigan
Some of that rebellion is a

request for help with their
problems. But by asking for help,
these children could be sent to jail.

agrees with Jondahl that status offenders have no place behind bars;
In July of 1976, the Department decreed that no status offenders could
be detained in state facilities. But private facilities maintain the grim
practice of locking children in jails.4
Nicholas Thomas, who as a student working for his Master's degree
in social work helped devise the ACLU's policy on status offenders
says not only do the courts have no place in the family, and th~
families have no place in the courts, but the courts are ineffectual
Releasing status offenders from the juvenile code and from all the
detention and correctional facilities in the state would force the
development of better and more appropriate community services for
families and children with problems, he says.
"Presently, schools do not have to respond to the individual's needs
and parents do not have to provide a home environment which
children do not want to leave; the juvenile courts stand ready to
relieve parents and schools of their problems," Thomas writes in a
position paper for the National Association of Social Workers.
WHEN "YOUNG people are subjected to the juvenile court process
and committed to a correctional or other type of program, they are
viewed, and begin to view themselves, as criminals," Thomas says.
Still, there are a lot of legislators, among other people, who favor a
counterproposal to the Jondahl bill. That version, sponsored by
Representative Dennis Cawthorne, a Republican, was devised by 4
group of juvenile court justices, It advises the court be used as a'"last
resort"-for status offenders, but never specifies when that "last
resort" might be necessary.
Saying he can't predict the support for the Jondahl bill, Thomas'
says, "There are a lot of people who believe ..,. if you let status offen-
ders out we'll have a lot of kids running wild."
Iowa recently took truancy out of its juvenile code. But, Thomas
says, there have been no reports of increased truancy in that state.
AND IN Florida and California, status offenders were taken from
the code without the provision of more and better community services.
"Even so, we don't hear any noises about 'the breakdown of the family
structure'," he says.
"The court as a last resort is a cop-out," Thomas charges. "It's a
way of getting out of coming up with new services."
New services cost money. Now the counties pick up most of the tab
for the juvenile courts. The state kicks in some money, primarily for
the judges' salaries and the cost of the state-run training schools. To
take status offenders out of the courts and correctional facilities, Jon-
dahl says new money to support the necessary services has to be
Some of that could be provided as seed money under the Federal
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act of 1974, an act which
finances alternative programs. But, after that, the money would
probably have to be raised in local millages, he says.
Few supporters think that option is very likely to be explored, ever
though some of the money could be shifted from budget allocations for
Juvenile Justice from the Department of Social Services or from the
"Frankly," Taylor concedes, echoing the words of others concer-
ned with the revision of the juvenile code, "I don't think you'll find
juvenile justice a very high priority."
Linda Willcox is a graduate student in journalism and a
managing editor for the Daily.




nothing magical about what we do."
Part of the problem, the former case worker says, is that sometimes
the families just don't give a damn. She says there usually is very little
family support for the child. Those problems can be expressed by the
child in any of several ways, but running away, truancy and in-
corrigibility are the most common to try to get some attention.
For some families, court intervention is just enough of a shock to
make them realize there is a problem and then try to do something
about it. "The court can really open some eyes," she says. But "I can't
say that we have a 100 per cent success rate."
"THE BIG problem is how tocorrect damage done in the home. I'm
not so sure we can do that," she sighs.
The only ace-in-the-hole the courts have to play is the contempt of
court citation for families which refuse services. "We can't put them
(the parents) in jail. We can't fine them. We can only find them in con-
tempt of court," she says.
Jondahl claims that's not all the court can do. Yes, he says, the cour-
ts have the contempt rulings at hand. But, he counters, the court can
also take away child and parental rights by making the youth a ward
of the court. From there, the child might go to relative's homes, foster
homes, group homes, halfway houses, or any of the private physically
restrictive institutions in the state.
Most critics of the Jondahl bill would say the court custody is for the'
child's benefit. They say the court is a last resort to help the child.
Under the present system, the court is now supposed to be a last
resort, Jondahl says. He advises the shift of money currently spent on
status offenders in state facilities to fund special programs for the
same children out of the courts.
TH ESTATE.'SDen artment of Social Services apparently tacitly


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the end
T HE LAST chapter was written
7 Wednesday in the story of two
nurses accused of poisoning patients
at Ann Arbor Veterans Hospital.
"After giving careful consideration
to the many factors involved, (I)
have decided to seek a dismissal,
rather than proceed with a new
trial," said U.S. Attorney James
Robinson in a 20-page memo to the
As a result, Leonora Perez and
Filipina Narciso, whose first convic-
tion was later overturned because of
the orosecution's mishandling of evi-

for the pair which
backing from area
and political groups.

received strong
labor, feminist

The committee charged that Perez
and Narciso were being used as
scape goats for the federal govern-
ment's inability to crack the strange
'series of breathing failures at the
hospital. Support group leaders ar-
gued that race and nationality were
the real reasons the pair was singled
Although pleased the two were
freed from legal sanction, committee
head Michael Price exnressed bitter-

investments and the 'U'
S OUTH Africa came to Ann Arbor
last week, or at least so it may
have seemed.
For four days, racial oppression
and the University's responsibilities
in dealing with it were hotly debated
in a series of speeches and panel
The scene was the long-awaited
South African investments forum.
Sponsored by the Committee on
Communications, the forum was
supposed to air the diverse view-
points on the 'U's holdings in
comnanies 'with plants in South

to progress throughout the continent
and "A boycott of South Africa at this
stage is totally irresponsible," said
envoy Deon Erasmus.
The University audience also
heard from black and white South
Africans opposed to that govern-
ment's racial policies and favoring.
an economic boycott to help bring
those policies to an end.
"It's your money (the University)
is investing," exiled black South
African student leader Selby Semela
told listening 'U' students. "Don't
ask - demand that they get your
money out of South Africa."
Whose voice the Regents will heed

long wave radio signals, designed to
maintain a link with the U.S. nuclear
submarine fleet in case of war.
Opponents of Seafarer contend the
system may pose health risks to
residents of the area within the com-
munications grid. Its backers argue
that Seafarer is vital to maintaining
America's ability to retaliate in the
event of a Soviet nuclear attack.
"I do think we need that commun-
ications system," Carter remarked
in answer to a question thrown his
way during a White house press
Michigan officials had assumed
that Carter campaign statements

Bill Restom.
Milliken appeared to be holding
back his heavier guns while seeking
clarification of Carter's remarks. If
the new decision sticks, however,
thunder may rumble and hotter
words issue forth from the State
House in Lansing.
the baboon seven
P RIMATES OF another sort were
in the news here and even gained
national attention as University re-
searchers began tests using baboons
in simulated car crashes.
Nighttime TV host Johnny Carson
suggested using gong show contest-

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