When Hamlett came up with “criminal responsibility for conduct of another” as a possible charge, there was a problem. It’s not an actual charge. There is no such crime. It is rather a basis upon which someone can be accused of a crime. For example, a person who caused someone else to commit robbery would be charged with robbery, not “criminal responsibility.”Meribah Knight, Nashville Public Radio, and Ken Armstrong, ProPublica
The actual events took place in 2016. Pro Publica, an independent, non-profit newsroom performing investigative journalism, dug deeper into the story. At the outset, know that you should read the actual story. It’s long, but it’s worth your time. Grumpy Old Teacher’s (GOT) purpose in writing about it is to amplify the Pro Publica piece. Linking to it three times in one paragraph ought to give you an idea of how important GOT believes it is.
Here’s your Civics education, kids. You know, the education that politicians, elected officials like governors and legislators, believe is essential to your functioning as an adult member of our civil society. So essential that in Florida, we have a new test (don’t make me deaf with your groans) and a new requirement for ‘civic literacy’ in post-secondary education. We’re talking college here.
State college and university students will be required to take an assessment in addition to a civics literacy course as a graduation requirement. Currently, college students are only required to complete one.Rachel Fradettte, Naples Daily News
What do we really learn from the Pro Publica article? We learn that prisons-for-profit is an institutional fact in at least one Tennessee county, which leaves us wondering how many more are there that have avoided the publicity?
Rutherford County markets itself and its ideas to other counties as having the capacity to jail children because it’s for their own good, ignoring established research and federal law that recognizes that incarceration of juveniles never produces a good outcome. Instead, it leaves children to grow into adulthood traumatized and struggling to live productive lives.
We see yet one more example of the overwhelming racism baked into the structure of our civics, which is to say, our system of governance. Beyond the shocking statistic that Rutherford County locks up 48% of the children referred to juvenile court versus a Tennessee average of 5%, we also see that it is mostly black children who fall into this tough love program.
We see that the judge, elected to preside over cases in juvenile court, sees herself as an advocate for the reforming of children. She’s on God’s mission according to her words. So here’s another civics lesson in real-life America: the bleeding of religious beliefs into the functioning of government.
Normally, judges shy away from publicity and media lest an expressed opinion might taint the perception of impartiality in a future case. But this judge appeared weekly on a radio segment to explain her agenda. Another civics lesson in how the courts are becoming politicized.
What are we to make of our constitutional protections? There is a right to counsel, a right to a timely day in court, a right to a jury decision, a right to demand a warrant … but the idea that a jurisdiction would make up a crime that does not exist and arrest children (8, 9, 10 years old), is so preposterous that the Founding Fathers didn’t think a specific provision in the Bill of Rights was needed.
That’s a hole we can drive a Mack truck through. GOT remembers that expression from his youth.
So yes, kids, yet another lesson in civics in real-life America. Elected officials, even those who serve as judges, can abuse their offices if no one is around to say no.
It is time to say no. Isn’t that what the politicians are telling us?