CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The Governor’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Council held an open meeting Wednesday to discuss challenges facing juveniles in the Lowcountry and identify solutions to improve the state’s juvenile justice system.
“The problem of locking kids up all because it was convenient dates back over 100 years,” Jay Elliott, the council’s interim chairman, said.
The primary topics covered at the meeting were police contact, police intervention, and pre-trial detention.
Elliott says all too often, jails become holding places for children, who are just starting their lives.
“A lot of kids who are placed in pre-trial detention don’t belong there,” Elliott said. “They could be placed somewhere else and one of those places is at home if there are some safeguards in place.”
He says placing children in jail for issues unrelated to crime can create unnecessary problems for them later in life.
“Detention can introduce kids to a certain life of criminality that they otherwise would never have been introduced to,” he said.
Elliott says kids don’t get bail, so placing them in detention centers arbitrarily is an issue that must be corrected.
“Very often,” he said. “Those kids, their needs can be met elsewhere other than the juvenile justice system.”
He also believes kids today are no different than kids of past generations. “They need to be nurtured,” Elliott said. “Looked after, cared for, in a safe place, get a decent education and get decent opportunities.”