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Swastika-painting, homophobic high-school vandals offered chance to make amends rather than face criminal prosecution in Arlington

Arlington school and police officials said today they will offer "restorative justice" to the 14 teens IDed as the people who vandalized Arlington High School and spray-painted swastikas and anti-gay slurs on the building on May 2.

Instead of facing criminal prosecution, the teens will be offered a chance at a three-phase program:

Victims of crime are given the opportunity to address those who have harmed them, to ask questions in a safe environment, and to share ideas on ways that the harm can be repaired.

Offenders better understand the impact of their actions, are held accountable, make financial restitution and encouraged to make amends to those they have harmed.

The community offers support for the process, strengthening community connections, and engaging in matters of concern to its members.

Most importantly, restorative justice requires buy-in from both the offenders and the victims in a given situation. The offenders would be working directly with members of the school community, Jewish community, and LGBTQIA+ community on a long-term process.

The students still face school discipline, up to suspension and being barred from school events, such as the senior prom, officials said.

In a statement, they added:

We recognize that it is faster and easier to arrest and prosecute these individuals rather than go through the restorative justice process, which requires more of a commitment from the offender. However, we believe that this proposed solution will bring everyone into the same room and provide opportunities for long-term growth, education, healing, and a repair of this breach in our community.

In Arlington, we do not run from a crisis; we embrace it as an opportunity to be better and do better. With restorative justice, we seek to foster a frank and honest dialogue of how we treat each other.

If we can all learn how and why this happened, perhaps we can prevent it from happening again.

Offenders who reject the program will instead face possible criminal prosecution, officials said.

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Most importantly, restorative justice requires buy-in from both the offenders and the victims in a given situation. The offenders would be working directly with members of the school community, Jewish community, and LGBTQIA+ community on a long-term process.

Isn't the real victim of graffiti the school staff who had to deal with the hassle of removing it?

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Kids are especially sensitive to this.

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One of if not some of these kids knows someone who doesn't want their kid going through the system as a fucking Nazi. So they pull this shaming shit out of their asses, when if it was a black kid from Roxbury busting into a car on Mass Ave, see where that concern for the triggering of that kid's feeling a charge might bring then.

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In fact, kids almost never go to jail for anything they do, unless there is serious violence, or it is their 5th-10th crime, or they seriously violated probation after another violent offense.

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And even if they were, the focus should be on diverting those kids from jail, not tossing white kids in jail too.

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And that includes jail time where appropriate, not making excuses for their behavior or giving them a pass because of totally arbitrary metrics like age.

It's sad how society has been brainwashed into thinking that punishment is evil and saddling a person found guilty of a crime with a blot on their record is totally wrong.

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But punishment clearly does not work - unless you wish to furnish evidence that it has been successful.

Kids do not belong in prisons. That's where they learn to be hardcore criminals.

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Yes, because having the highest prison population (per capita) in the world has been working so well for us.

And getting a job after serving prison time is so easy.

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No need to put words in my mouth, bud.

First, I'm not sure where you get the idea that age is an arbitrary metric. It's very well established that brain development continues into the 20s. There are reasons a separate system (to some degree) exists for juveniles, and that most are not tried as an adult.

Second, punishment is important but there are lots of ways to do it. Everyone used to just hit their kids, and we mostly don't do that anymore (broad generalization yes) for reasons including that studies have shown it mostly doesn't work. So we find better, more humane, more effective ways to punish.

This *is* punishment, just a more thoughtful, more humane, and hopefully more effective one than jail. Do you really think these kids won't view it as punishment?

It's sad when we insist on doing things a certain way because that's just how we've always done it.

ETA I realized your comments were probably more about the hypothetical car break-ins but I will still argue it's in everyone's best interest to find effective punishments that keep kids out of jail regardless of race.

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Except punishment beyond controlling their life in order to improve their life, like simply putting them in jail until they complete some arbitrary amount of time behind bars, *is* evil. It's evil because we know it doesn't work to solve any issue. So if we continue to do it anyways, we're being evil, not useful, by simply removing them from society for periods of time.

Jail sentences alone don't work. It just teaches the criminal they can survive your punishment too. It doesn't rehabilitate them. It doesn't show them how to do better than whatever led them in life to do what they did.

Jail is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you treat the offenders as your enemy...as "animals" per our President, guess what you get back? You get back the same treatment. If you treat them as flawed humans who need normalization and improvement, you get back better people than those that came in the door. You can adjust them to society again.

And for the truly irredeemable, there is still the possibility of permanent jail.

I suggest you have a look at how the rest of the world is better than us at sentencing criminals, too.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-presents-behind-bars-prison/

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... any evidence that supports your implicit claim which i interpret as being approximately, that a system that focuses on punishment yields better outcomes than one that does not.

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Prison is punitive it should have no benefit to the criminal. It benefits non-criminals by removing said offenders from society.

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How good for society?

Show your work.

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Some comments here seem to conflate being charged with going to jail. This isn't diverting them from jail. This is diverting them from unsupervised probation, community service, and a sealed record. Unless one of them went on to commit more crimes, that means pretty much no one outside of a government employer would ever have seen the entry.

Not every juvenile offense needs to be prosecuted. In fact, most of them don't. But this kind of resolution to this kind of crime makes it easier for privileged racists and homophobes to escape even the most lenient judicial accountability and get jobs as cops, court clerks, state reps, and other positions where they can exercise their beliefs more discreetly but with greater authority. Real nice.

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Throwing them in the idiot bin and washing your hands?

That isn't how we get a better society - this is intended to reverse the stupidity that led them to do something stupid.

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...but they can attend restorative justice circles while they're on probation. I'm sure the judge would look favorably on it, and it would benefit them and the students of color and LGBTQ students who were harmed in the first place.

I'm not writing these kids off at all. I just don't fret that walking into juvenile court where they might encounter less-privileged people will turn them into hardened criminals. I know many people with juvenile records and most of them are like anybody else (only a few are actually idiots, really no more than the statistical norm for the sample size). They did stupid things as young people and paid for those things as young people, as they should. They're not victims. They're normal people.

On the other hand, if you're running the civil rights division of the Mass AG's office, for example, wouldn't you want to know if one of your two final candidates had a history of spray-painting swastikas at a school? If you needed help from the equal opportunity office of your city government, would you want as representation someone who didn't just use homophobic slurs but actually spray-painted them on a wall? I mean, doesn't that bother you?

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Pretty bright for an "anon".

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Point taken that they would almost certainly not actually go to jail. But I will still argue that it's better to give them a chance to put work in, make amends and actually learn something rather than send them through an already clogged legal system for the most lenient judicial accountability.

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I've reread your post at least 5 times but I still can't make sense of it. Are you claiming they have connections 'higher up' and pulling white privilege?

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Rich white kids face no consequence for their actions.

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Rich? This is Arlington we're talking about, not W-town.

Or is anyone not living in the dumps rich now?

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The whites in Arlington aren't what I consider rich.

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They want their census data back.

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Arlington housing prices and rents went out of reach of middle income families about 20 years ago.

As of 2010 US Census, Arlington ranks 43rd in MA for income:
43 Arlington Town Middlesex
per capita $49,549
median household $89,841
median family $117,590

http://www.massbenchmarks.org/statedata/data/median99.pdf

Unless there are a lot of rich non-whites, Arlington has become a fairly wealthy town.

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Just like Brookline, Swirly, if you remember from back in your BU days.

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And most of Arlington's subsidized housing is elderly housing. That has been the situation for decades.

I lived in Arlington for 8 years. Left when I got priced out after Cambridge Rent Control ended and all the people sitting on piles of cash from living in cheap apartments decided to buy there.

Again, there have to be a lot of fairly wealthy people living there to generate those kinds of income numbers.

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Make a mends ? Yea, that autta show'em. That will teach those racist, that the hate they were taught at home all there lives isn't right. Great parents with the racist home training.

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They now have to work with people who they harmed in order to clear their names.

See them as humans. Serve them.

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This has the potential to humanize the offenders to the victims, and vice versa. Punishment will just drive the offenders deeper into hatred.

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This sounds like a good idea to me, especially since it requires buy-in from everyone involved.

How long would these kids likely spend in jail anyway? If it is as they say it is, sounds like it could take longer and be more intensive for the offenders to be punished this way. And the kids don't get put in the system for something they did which was awful, but not a violent crime.

Plus, if they did go to jail it's not unlikely they'd make friends with older, more hard-core white supremacists in there.

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In 5th grade an intelligent friend of mine took a can of spray paint and wrote "Rams #1" (he loved the LA Rams) on the blacktop play area at our school. Everyone instantly knew who did it, and he got a ton of shit and had to pay to get the paint removed. While his message didn't attack anyone (I liked the Steelers, but I wasn't offended.) his crime was much like the one in Arlington. He was a young smart-but-stupid kid who fucked up. Having to meet the people you have wronged is a HUGE punishment and in this case much more useful than throwing them behind bars.

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that works for me, YOU just better hope i never murder a police officer in an attic.

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That killing someone and spray painting slurs are two totally different things. You don't get jail for speeding, but you do if you run someone over. Let the punishment fit the crime.

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that's not my point. my point is if you let someone get away with one thing it may lead to them thinking they can get away with multiple things down the line.

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When you were a kid, what did you prefer:
a. a quick punishment
b. a process where you would have to think about things and do things and show up repeatedly to things

These kids are going to have to work through their misdeeds via option b.

That isn't getting away with anything.

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b. a process where you would have to think about things and do things and show up repeatedly to things

right, its called being arrested , being on probation, and then going to get a GED at a place not called Arlington High School because you have lost that PRIVILEGE.

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If they’re going to go that route, I wonder if they’re bringing in consultants, or have consulted with experts similar to those from Life After Hate. They use supervised exposure to members of the targeted groups as part of rehabilitation. My concern, even if members of the targeted groups are ok with it in Arlington, is that it be done in an effectual way.

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A nascent batallion of young affluent Jew-haters and white supremacists. Glad to see nobody else is particularly alarmed by this manifestation of the hip new brazen hatred, which seems to me distinctly Trump-related. What happened to all the Nazi-punchers around here? Have we all given up so easily? In all seriousness, though, were any of them 18 at the time of the crime? Who were these racist losers? I sure hope this restorative justice thing works on these neo-nazis and that it doesn't just reinforce their privileged sense that they can get away with anything in Das Trumpenscumland. Some of them will no doubt be arrogantly, and triumphantly, laughing all the way through their supposed penance.

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Part of their penance/punishment is that they will have to show that they are rethinking things from a different perspective.

Part of their crime was that they simply didn't think. Gonna hurt!

I also know some of the people involved with this - the little brats are NOT going to get off easy! They are going to be backed to the wall and shown little slack when it comes to "why did you do this - again?".

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For scrawling a non-credible threat of some sort on a wall. 12 years old. Arrested and soon to be arraigned. No "restorative justice" for her- just the normal juvenile justice system most kids who commit crimes have to deal with. Good thing swastikas aren't considered threatening by anyone!

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/05/24/year-old-girl-arrested-rando...

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It seems like your beef should be with Randolph PD for not acting like Arlington.

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Unfortunately there was no post here about the 12 year old. And until there is a real will to establish some equality in these matters, I think we will see endlessly diverging outcomes and worsening patterns of injustice. I don't know the race of the little girl, but I would not be at all surprised to learn that she is non-white. Either way, they should strongly consider skipping the arraigment and doing some school-based restorative justice. A gang of 17 year olds plastering the school with the universally recognized emblem of a Jew-killing regime is more threatening, in my opinion, than a 12-year-old scribbling "im gonna blow up this stupid school" or something on a bathroom wall. Admittedly I don't know what she wrote, as that information was not provided.

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