A Good But Not Great Panel and Article on Juvenile Justice

Reading last Sunday’s Armstrong Williams’ Juvenile Justice Town Hall article in his Baltimore Sun   “Owner’s Box”  [February 25, 2024], as well as watching Fox 45’s Town Hall itself, one should find informative, thorough, and enlightening.

The Town Hall panel comprised Mr. Williams, Governor Wes Moore, PG County States Attorney Aisha Braveboy and Baltimore City States Attorney Ivan Bates (full disclosure: Bates, a favorite political leader of the writer, spoke in my Persuasion class at Towson University in the fall of 2022).

As a professor who evaluated papers and ran panels, discussions and debates for 5 decades inside and outside of Towson University, I would give Williams’ panel and the piece reflecting on it a “B”:  the issues of juvenile justice were covered well and comprehensively with panelists speaking clearly and not speaking over one another.  Mr. Williams was a superb moderator, clarifying questions and adding necessary follow-ups unobtrusively and respectfully.

Braveboy, however, added little to the panel discussion, emphasizing rehabilitation repeatedly, and simply complimenting Moore at every point, as if her employment were on the line.

Bates, who is always responsible in his rhetoric,  said he, at last, has with Moore’s help the prosecutors he needs to protect the community from youth who believed that they can rob and haunt businesses with impunity. He also emphasized accountability and cited the need for business owners and citizens to get restitution, pointing out the exorbitant costs of car thefts and the impact of juvenile crime on “our families greatly.”

Williams’ column and the panelists discussed the issues and problems of accountability (a word repeated and repeated throughout the panel and emphasized in the article) and the future of how to deal with youthful felonious acts and their perpetrators. There was also a panel concession by Moore that there may be some problematic positions by the Maryland Secretary of Juvenile Services, Vincent Schiraldi – supporting both the elimination of probation and elimination of the sex registry — that he (Moore) will need to resolve and a firm statement that he is the Governor.  Possession of illegal guns cannot be just a misdemeanor, said Moore.

And to be honest, there was some undeserved indulgence toward the Governor in the panel – Williams said he was beginning to be known as the “law and order governor” – that caused one to say, “Really?”

There was, however, one – and only one — a particularly seminal issue that was addressed but prematurely dropped twenty minutes and some seconds into the televised discussion, and it was the only weak point in Williams’ article as well.

Williams said what was missing from the Governor’s “equation” in discussing juvenile justice is the family structure…fatherless homes…family breakdown…mothers raising these kids alone…moral advice and learning “what it means to be a man.” How do we rebuild the institution of the family, Williams asked.

Williams claimed that Moore gave a “profound response,” indicating that he was raised by an immigrant single mom.  But the Governor really had no answers, which should have included disincentivizing single-parenting and incentivizing stable 2-parent families.  The 80% fatherlessness rate in Baltimore City is forever destructive to such children – accounting for violence on the streets, violence in the home, impossible-to-exaggerate education problems evidenced by students’ inability to read and do math, and deadly futures, and problems with those with whom they interact, not to mention the father substitutes operating in Baltimore City and elsewhere: violent gangs which many seek as father-substitutes.

Moore’s answer instead, in the show panel, ignored the critical question and went into the embarrassingly clichéd and utterly destructive  “It Takes a Village” answer to said problems of broken families.  We have that now, Governor – how is it working out?

Generally informative panel and article:  again, “B” in my estimation, and there are no appeals except to the professor himself.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.