LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – The arrest of a Lexington teenager accused of shooting a police officer has local attorneys calling for change in the juvenile justice system.
The NAACP released a statement suggesting flaws in the way teenagers are treated in the juvenile justice system.
“Maybe we should start getting to the root of the problem and stop trying to put a band-aid over these literal bullet holes,” NAACP Vice President Matthew Williams said.
A statement of concern comes in light of recent events that have taken place. The call to action letter from the Lexington-Fayette County chapter of the NAACP asks bluegrass leaders to change the current state of the juvenile justice system.
“No, we have to ask ourselves why and where did this bad choice come from. It probably comes from a trauma that they have already experienced in their life,” Williams said.
The chapter’s vice president said they were asking heads of state to consider a system that focused on rehabilitation rather than harsh penalties.
“We’re sick of our kids ending up frankly dead or in jail. We’ve had enough, there’s no room for this anymore and we’re going to talk about the things that will continue to perpetuate the harmful cycle,” Williams said.
In the letter, the NAACP says a teenager accused of shooting a Lexington police officer was being tried as a young adult offender and said incidents like this “only push the juvenile deeper into the system. The letter goes on to say that if the teenager was serving time in a juvenile detention center, he would have received help tailored to his needs.
“We can support our young people and maybe we can change some things when we show them that we care about them and don’t just want to lock them up and throw away the key,” Williams said.
The dean of the University of Kentucky College of Education said school systems should also focus on restorative practices rather than disciplinary action to keep children on track.
“When children have difficult circumstances, they bring those circumstances to schools and therefore to school educators at the forefront of our country’s social problems. and so we must provide schools with the support they need to meet the challenges students face in their lives,” said the University of Kentucky Dean of Education.
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