When we think of people being ordered to pay restitution to the victim of their criminal act, we typically picture that victim being an ordinary person who lost valuables in, say, a burglary. We imagine the restitution is directly tied to the criminal behavior, with simple justice requiring the victim to be repaid. It's often a lot more complicated than that.
The federal judge hearing the case on Wisconsin's juvenile prisons commented that Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, suffers less restrictive solitary confinement than do the juveniles confined at the Lincoln Hills School correctional facility in Irma.
In Wisconsin as in other states, there is a lot of controversy about the ways in which juvenile offenders are prosecuted. The age of adulthood in most of the country is 18, and in Wisconsin an offender can be tried as an adult at age 17. What most people never really consider, however, is that both of these numbers are essentially arbitrary divisions between childhood and adulthood.
Children make mistakes, but some mistakes can lead to challenges. Research has shown that children lack maturity in avoiding risky behavior. However, some decisions leading to juvenile offenses can affect a child for the rest of his or her life. Recently, police say that two sisters have made choices that may lead to significant penalties.
In an effort to curb crime in Wisconsin, lawmakers have signed into law a series of bills that some feel are overreaching. One of the bills gives law enforcement, including officers, judges and prosecutors, greater access to the criminal records of juveniles. This increased access would allow law enforcement officials to track a juvenile's record and group those young individuals charged with minor offenses with juveniles who have been charged with more serious crimes.