Improving juvenile justice, revisited

August 23, 2010

I agree with Sonia Kumar ("Improving juvenile justice," Readers Respond, Aug. 18 to a degree; however, there are additional aspects of why emphasis must be placed on programming for youth [delinquent] or at risk for contact with the Department of Juvenile Services. Moreover, it is important to understand and not waver from the position services for girls must be structured for them and them explicitly.

Ms. Kumar speaks about the Female Intervention Team (FIT) Unit started in 1992 by Marian D. Daniel, who has since retired from the department, as a result of the needs of the delinquent female population from Baltimore City. The team members of FIT with the guidance, direction, and support of Mrs. Daniel improved the lives of countless females (families) by: implementing best practices; developing and facilitating innovative programming; assuring this occurred in the least restrictive manner; working to preserve the safety of the community; and with commitment, concern, and with both a passion and desire to work with females. FIT did and continues to advocate for the needs of females in addition to assuring that respondents (delinquent youth) understand responsibility as well as accountability is paramount. Nonetheless, if the objectives and goals are not supported, understood, or at the forefront of individuals and organizations which make decisions about females [FIT] then progress will end. Numerous females will be lost in a system which re-victimizes, fails them by preparing them for the adult system; not to mention, how all of this affects society on so many other levels.

Therefore, I implore Ms. Kumar and other organizations/agencies charged with assuring services for youth in need, to, collectively, stipulate these services are being supported/continued if they are already in place and implemented immediately if additional needs assessments determine other services are required. No time can be spent on finger pointing, politics, blaming, or the why or because…action and results must be the only focus in the fight…..the fight to save youth.

Terra Harris, Rochester, N.Y.

This writer is a former member of the FIT Unit and currently an executive director for a non profit.

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