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Letter to the Editor: A response to “Our juvenile justice system is a disgrace. It must be reformed.”

I read Keith Kappes’s article in the Sept. 24th issue of the Carter County Times and I have a few comments.

First, I don’t believe Cheves, the Lexington newspaper man, has ever worked a day as a corrections offer in any kind of facility and I doubt if Keith Kappes has. I worked in corrections as an officer for over 13 years so I know a little more about the job than they do. Don’t judge people who work a job too harshly if you have never worked the job yourself. The “children” that hte newspaper man feel so sorry for are not in the Juvenile Corrections Complex (JCC) for stealing a candy bar. Our system gives problem children and other offenders lots of breaks and lots of chances to straighten their lives up. Most people in prison or JCC have pretty thick rap sheets. Most of them have committed numerous crimes or something very bad like murder or rape. 

Next, you mentioned “troubled youths.” Just because someone has a rough childhood does not give them a right to victimize the people around them. They should follow the laws just like everyone else. I am sure it was the “trouble youths” who told the newspaper man all about their troubled childhood. We had a saying in corrections – “If you can’t believe a convicted felon, who can you believe.” Criminals, no matter what their age, will manipulate and use anybody, including newspaper men. I know of at least one corrections officer who was fired from JCC because he “took an inmate down too hard after being attacked by the inmate.” What are you supposed to do when attacked?

We, as a nation, have babied and mollycoddled criminals for at least 30 years now and it hasn’t helped. Crime rates are higher than ever before. We need to change, alright. We need to toughen up, not slack off.

— Randall McGlone
Retired Corrections Officer

Editor’s Note: Keith’s column “Our juvenile justice system is a disgrace. It must be reformed.” ran in the October 13, 2021 edition of the Carter County Times.

Response from the author:
I appreciate the dangerous work that Mr. McGlone and other correctional officers have performed over the years and continue to do so today. However, it is my understanding that the rule of law allows the court system to determine the punishment for lawbreakers, regardless of age, and the state assumes responsibility for making sure the criminals serve their sentences. Nowhere does it say that prison authorities have the right to brutalize inmates as additional punishment for those crimes. The Herald-Leader articles were not based on first graders complaining to their parents about being put in time-out. Those articles were based on 116 documented cases of excessive force against incarcerated juvenile offenders, including sexual assault.

— Keith Kappes

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