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Letter: Quit mixing youthful offenders with hardened criminals

Letter: Quit mixing youthful offenders with hardened criminals

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Bonne Terre Prison

The Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center is a large prison in Bonne Terre, Mo., 60 miles south of St. Louis. Photo by Jesse Bogan,

Regarding the editorial "Missouri has the right law on juvenile offenders. Now it needs to fund it." (March 29): I worked at the Bonne Terre state prison from 2010 to 2013. It is a Level 5 prison, which means anyone convicted of anything from burglary to multiple murders can be placed in the same housing unit, associating with other inmates or even ending up as cellmates.

I saw many young, new offenders with absolutely blank expressions on their faces. I could only imagine they were thinking: What happened? I know any solution would cost money, but there must be a better way to do this.

If someone breaks the law and is convicted, the person should be punished, but in my personal opinion, putting a young person convicted of a nonviolent crime in an institution where he or she is vulnerable to the influence of older, violent offenders is just plain wrong. They literally might learn how to be a more serious criminal.

Dale Scott • Hillsboro 

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