A Due Respect for Political Patronage Job Holders
Looking out the window prior to work, today, brings to mind this article about truants that I’ve been meaning to note for a few weeks, now:
For years, magistrates for Rhode Island Family Court’s truancy program have imprisoned students who misbehave during hearings on their attendance, despite a state law created to keep the government from locking up juveniles for noncriminal offenses.
The magistrates, who run the weekly truancy court in classrooms, cafeterias and school offices around the state, have declared youths as young as 12 in criminal contempt of court for not answering their questions, swearing, slamming a door on their way out of the room or otherwise showing “total disregard for authority,” according to court documents and interviews.
Once inside the state’s juvenile correctional system, the youths are forced to undergo strip searches, urine and blood tests. They wear prison uniforms and, for a night or two, mix with teenagers accused of drug dealing, robbery, weapons possession, assault and other violent crimes.
All of this without legal representation. Moreover, as we note from time to time (here and here, for two), magistrates are tainted by the fact that they are not appointed by the same process as judges, but by the Chief Justice of the RI Supreme Court and by other magistrates.
Imprisoning kids for disrespect is certainly the sort of thing that the holder of a political patronage job would talk him or her self into believing to be in the best interest of all involved. Perhaps people acting as judges who aren’t judges at all, but mere politically connected lawyers, come to believe that they’re above the law. Or perhaps they feel like they’ve got something to prove.