Readers React to “Zero Tolerance Breeds Zero Justice”

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The comments below are some of the online responses to "Zero Tolerance Breeds Zero Justice," published in Youth Today in April and expanded upon at

First, I'd like to congratulate Youth Today on its coverage of the Luzerne County scandal. The review of events in John Kelly's story is excellent (and horrifying).

Second, judicially controlled systems are not inherently worse than executive-controlled systems. Either can be great, and either can be abusive. The keys to quality have always been sufficient resources, able leadership, strong management, enlightened policy and, perhaps most of all, transparency.

The shocker in the Luzerne County story is that it took so long for something to happen, when so many people were apparently screaming about it for years. Thank you, Juvenile Law Center.

Jeffrey Butts
Executive Vice President for Research
Public/Private Ventures

This is an outstanding summary of the implications of the Luzerne scandal. My worry all along has been that people - especially people who only intermittently pay attention to juvenile justice and don't know a whole lot about it - will take away the wrong lessons and impose "solutions" (sentencing guidelines, more state-centralized control, fewer private alternatives) that will make matters worse. Thanks for calling attention to that possibility.

Patrick Griffin
Sr. Research Associate
National Center for Juvenile Justice