Friday, January 04, 2008

Juvenile justice and the pardon

Juvenile justice and the pardon
January 3, 2008

LEAVING ASIDE for a moment the self-serving presidential campaign rhetoric that has brought to the front page Mitt Romney's refusal to pardon a decorated war veteran, we should ask how it is possible for a juvenile at the age of 13 to have a public criminal record that would require pardoning as if the individual were an adult at the time ("Mass. pardon case at center of GOP storm," Jan. 2).

Juvenile court is supposed to be a confidential legal setting. The whole purpose of juvenile justice is to recognize adolescence and the need to treat juveniles as if they are less responsible for their actions than adults. A juvenile's record of delinquency is not a permanent record of criminality but a temporary one that is to be wiped clean when the juvenile turns into an adult.

The juvenile court's mission remains important in providing youths with the second chance that they need to become productive, law-abiding adults.

The fact that Anthony Circosta as an adult had to petition to be pardoned for an offense that he committed at 13 is a sad indictment not only of a former governor who consistently refused to grant any petition, but of a state that prides itself on its ability to provide justice.

The writer is a professor of criminal justice at Northeastern University.

WOULDN'T IT be rich for Governor Patrick to show up his predecessor by issuing a long-overdue pardon to Anthony Circosta? Nothing would send a stronger message regarding justice and sensitivity.
PHIL HALL, Fairfield, Conn.

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