The Virginian-Pilot: Beaver: Virginia Needs a Real Alternative to Youth Prison

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VIRGINIA’S JUVENILE prisons are failing all of us. The young people coming out of these prisons are worse off for the time they spent there. Their families are stressed and broken by the separation from their children and the financial burden of having to pay child support to the state for their incarcerated child. The communities to which these youth return are less safe.

I have seen these failures firsthand. I grew up in the juvenile prisons in Virginia after being convicted as an adult for a crime that I committed at the age of 14. I have seen my friends and peers incarcerated for years without visits from their families. I have seen my friends and peers languish in these prisons, receiving inadequate education and therapeutic services. I have seen my friends and peers, upon their return home, struggle to find jobs and make ends meet. I have also seen them end up in the adult prison system or, far worse, dead.

 

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