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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, jbogan@Post-Dispatch.com

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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