It’s becoming more and more illegal to be a kid today.
A nine-year-old Idaho boy was just arrested for failing to show up for court after stealing a pack of gum.
Post Falls Police Chief Scot Haug claims he was surprised when the “failure to appear” warrant for the unnamed nine-year-old came across his desk earlier in the week.
Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh, batting his Bambi-like innocent eyes, says he is not able to comment because of the age of the defendant involved, but Haug was happy enough to state that the warrant was only issued because the boy had missed court over the issue for the second time. He also said it’s very uncommon for a business owner to press charges against someone who steals. One would hope that would go double for a child guilty of stealing a measly pack of gum.
Now, granted the child should not have stolen the gum, but a nine-year-old boy stealing a pack of gum is nothing unusual, and hardly anything that suggests the kid will become a career criminal. The fact that a business would even press charges against a child of such a young age is shameful. How much time and money will be wasted over a pack of gum worth less than a dollar? And what kind of a stigma will prosecution possibly impress into the child? The longterm costs upon the boy, his family, and society far outweigh any sense of “justice” that might be gained from prosecuting the boy.
I was surprised that it had gotten to this level.
It is the first time in 30 years of law enforcement that he says he has ever seen a warrant for someone so young. According to Haug, the child failed to show up to court because the family did not have a way of getting him there. What was the child supposed to do? Hitchhike? Walk? If the store wanted to be a prick and prosecute over a pack of gum, shouldn’t those charges have been levied against the parents?
And when the child did not show up to court either time, shouldn’t the resulting punishment, again, be against the parents for not taking their child to court? Why should this child be detained in a juvenile detention center over a pack of gum?
Had we known [he would not be able to find transportation] before the court date we would have provided something for the family. I wish we would have had more information that way we could have provided some sort of assistance.
The boy is currently being detained at the Juvenile Detention Center awaiting his moment before a judge.
Prosecutors are uncertain of the outcome that awaits the boy. Let us hope the judge proves to be the first line of sanity in the Post Falls justice system.
In a society that is constantly putting it on the parents to do their jobs and raise their kids correctly, law enforcement and the larger justice system will have to stop getting in the middle for petty, childish “crimes” and allow parents to have what’s known as a “teachable” moment, and that goes for the businesses that would actually get the police involved for a child stealing so little as a pack of gum.
And we wonder why our jails are overcrowded. Good grief.