PROMISE Act would break the cradle-to-prison pipeline [Letter]

July 17, 2014

Your editorial, "Breaking a vicious cycle" (July 14) hits the nail on the head. With U.S. youth incarceration rates the highest in the world — greater than the rates of the other 10 most developed countries combined — something is tragically wrong. It is disturbing that once incarcerated as a youth, even for less serious offenses, these individuals have an increased likelihood of returning to prison and a decreased chance of securing gainful employment later in life.

As you point out, the Youth PROMISE Act offers a more effective approach to juvenile crime. It is a bipartisan bill, introduced in both the U.S. House and Senate, that should easily pass regardless of one's political ideology. The Peace Alliance, a grassroots educational and advocacy organization, has long been a strong supporter of this legislation since it will not only save money but requires funded programs to be evidence-based and identified by local stakeholders as the most effective.

The Youth PROMISE Act would fund many prevention or early intervention programs like restorative justice as so ably promoted by Baltimore's Community Conferencing Center. It is a sensible effort that will yield results geared toward not only reducing youth incarceration but also building a more peaceful and less violent community and world. Maryland Reps. Donna Edwards, Elijah Cummings and Chris Van Hollen are co-sponsors of the bill. Constituents should urge Reps. Andy Harris, C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Steny Hoyer and John Delaney, as well as Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, to co-sponsor this important legislation.

Robert Baskin, Washington

The writer is president of The Peace Alliance.

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