Weekly Roundup 3/7/2011

"States Prosecute Fewer Teenagers in Adult Courts"
Mosi Secret, The New York Times, March 6, 2011

Synopsis: Several states have moved or are moving to raise the age at which teenagers accused of crimes are treated as adults instead of being tried in juvenile courts. The trend reverses the get-tough policy of a generation ago when youth crime was at record levels. Proponents say juvenile courts offer social services better suited to redirecting youthful offenders; opponents are raising the additional costs of juvenile services in resisting the trend.

For background, see Thomas J. Billitteri, “Youth Violence,” [subscription required] CQ Researcher, March 5, 2010.

--Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor


"In States, Parties Clash Over Voting Laws That Call for IDs, Limits on Where College Students Can Cast Ballots"
Peter Wallsten, Washington Post, March 7, 2011

Synopsis: Newly elected Republican leaders of state legislatures around the country are pushing to tighten voter-registration laws by requiring photo IDs and banning temporary residents such as students and military personnel from voting in a state that’s only their part-time home. Part of the rationale, as articulated by at least one lawmaker: College students don’t have what it takes to be intelligent voters.

Takeaway: “New Hampshire's new Republican state House speaker is pretty clear about what he thinks of college kids and how they vote. They're ‘foolish,’ Speaker William O'Brien said in a recent speech to a tea party group. ‘Voting as a liberal. That's what kids do,’ he added, his comments taped by a state Democratic Party staffer and posted on YouTube. Students lack ‘life experience,’ and ‘they just vote their feelings.’”

--Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer


"The Liberation of Lori Berenson"
Jennifer Egan, The New York Times, March 2, 2011

Lori Berenson was an idealistic American graduate of M.I.T. who moved to Peru hoping to change the world. She was convicted and imprisoned for 15 years for aiding anti-government revolutionaries. This is her sobering post-release story.

Takeaway: We Americans are perhaps inured to breathless stories about terrorists from exotic lands, but this story is about someone who could have been the girl next door. It adds an important perspective to previous stories about terrorists and their motivation.

For background, see Barbara Mantel, “Terrorism and the Internet," [subscription required] CQ Global Researcher, November 2009; and Kenneth Jost, “Democracy in Latin America,” [subscription required] Nov. 3, 2000

--Thomas J. Colin, Contributing Editor