Ronald Reagan didn’t start the war on drugs but he did his best to finish it. Law enforcement budgets soared, the jails were packed and the war was carried as far afield as Latin America and Afghanistan.
So it might count as one of history’s minor ironies that here in Dixon, just a few blocks from Reagan’s boyhood home, the local police have called a ceasefire in the war on drugs.
Would a law enforcement officer hand a private citizen a gun and ask them to uphold the law without the completion of an officer’s standards and training course? The answer is a resounding no, because that would put people's lives in jeopardy.
A circuit court judge acquitted Lt. Brian Rice of all charges related to the arrest and death of Freddie Gray today, the Baltimore Sun reported. The next trial of an officer in the case is scheduled for July 27.
Nicholas Heyward Sr., 58, remembers the night. It was a warm Tuesday in 1994 and the sun had yet to set. Neighborhood children trickled into the Gowanus Houses, the Brooklyn housing project where he lived, answering their parents’ calls, while others stayed outside to enjoy the remainder of a beautiful fall day.
As a child growing up in New York City, I often got conflicting messages about the police. On the one hand, I was told by my teachers that they were here to keep me safe, on the other, hip-hop groups that I looked up to such as Public Enemy and NWA told me “911 is a joke” and “F@$k The Police.”
Greg Berman, director of the Center for Court Innovation in New York City gives an excellent overview of how youth courts work in this video interview with Leonard Witt of the JJIE.org. They are completely teen driven with teens as judges, attorneys and juries who hear actual cases either referred by the police or the courts. Each teen judge, attorney or juror gets 30-hours of training and has to pass a "bar exam" to be able to serve. In the youth courts Berman's center helps oversee, the kids running the courts come from a variety of backgrounds, so the offenders are being judged by their real peers. In fact, kids who once came before the court often come back later to serve as judges, attorneys and jurors, so Berman says it can be “a life changing experience.”
Kids sent to the court have already admitted guilt and are at the mercy of their peers to design the sanctions that will be administered.