Letters to the Editor

Juvenile justice

The June 25 article, “In many states, black juveniles end up in adult court in high numbers,” is one concrete block in America’s house of racism.

Forty years ago, I was the director of the Miami TRY Center, a state-operated program for juveniles who were convicted of crimes. Located in Liberty City, the program was profiled twice on national television and on both occasions I said Florida’s juvenile justice was racist because black juveniles were treated way more harshly than white juveniles when they committed the same offense.

It was common knowledge that when a white kid steals, often the punishment was a verbal reprimand, but for the same offense a black kid would be arrested. Black juveniles where “bound over” to the adult system at a much higher rate than white juveniles, and I said that on the three-hour NBC documentary “Violence In America,” as well as on the NBC Today Show.

The juvenile court judges agreed with the comments, but the Florida Juvenile Justice administrators totally rejected them. The problem is worse today because of the overall rate of incarceration of African-American juveniles and adults.

Much of America believes that black juveniles and adults are incarcerated because they come from single-parent homes (Fox News has been reporting this for years), and that they are the ones committing the majority of crimes.

Millions of Americans deny America’s house of racism exists; that the foundation is slavery, and the blocks on top of that foundation are made of Jim Crow, lynching, segregation, redlining, mortgage lending discrimination, discriminatory political and economic institutions, voter suppression, discriminatory adult justice systems, and, in Florida, still after 40 years, a racist juvenile-justice system.

We who love America just want to remodel the house, not destroy it. The Miami Herald article speaks for itself.

Leonard Perlman,

Cutler Bay

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