Soapbox

Another View: Youth correctional workers deserve respect

Shame on the Rev. Beverly Brewster for a piece on solitary confinement for our state’s incarcerated youths that was misleading and that deprecates the dedicated men and women that work in the trenches (“End long solitary confinement for state’s youths”: Viewpoints, Aug. 30).

First of all, the Division of Juvenile Justice eliminated the “23 and 1” programs, which are referred to as solitary confinement, years ago. The number 1 represents the number of hours allowed out of a room or cell. Now, all youths get at least three hours out of their rooms regardless of their behavior or danger level.

Youth correctional counselors document whenever a ward receives recreation, meals, religious services, counseling, and medical and dental attention. This information is reviewed by supervisors at the facility and at headquarters. Brewster’s article doesn’t specify whether it is addressing state or county facilities, or both.

I worked at four state youth correctional facilities, and contrary to what the article claims, none of them had windowless rooms. I also do not know of any county youth correctional facilities that have windowless rooms.

The fact that black and brown youths outnumber white youths in these facilities does not mean our criminal justice system is flawed or unfair. The fact is that most incarcerated youths are gang members, and the majority of them are black or brown, and many have committed violent crimes. Young criminals, thugs and gangsters made their own lawbreaking choices. They are responsible, not the criminal justice system.

How dare you imply that our state’s incarcerated youths are being tortured. That is a slap in the face to the many hardworking, courageous and professional staffers who work and have worked with our state’s incarcerated youths. Many are military veterans and have years of experience working with difficult wards under difficult conditions. Many have been assaulted and have had to endure verbal abuse.

I suggest you walk in their shoes for a month or so. Maybe then, you can rethink your position.

Jose Gonzalez of Roseville is a retired state youth correctional counselor who worked at facilities in Stockton.

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