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Hesse to send juvenile repeat offender to Eastern Europe

DDP/The Local · 18 Nov 2009, 07:45

Published: 18 Nov 2009 07:45 GMT+01:00

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The young man, who has kept law enforcement busy since he was 10, was caught red-handed over the weekend after a series of home invasions and narrow escapes in the Rhine-Neckar region of Baden-Württemberg.

A police dog led officers to the boy, who was huddled behind a fuel tank in the boiler room of a residence. He was found carrying watches and jewellery presumably stolen during previous break-ins.

Ute Schneider-Jaksch, head of the youth office in the Bergstrasse county of Hesse, said the one-year programme in Eastern Europe is meant to encourage the boy to give up “old, negative behaviours” through activities like chopping firewood and helping care for animals.

At just 10 years of age, the boy had already committed his first crime. He has since broken into homes and stolen mopeds and other valuables – though his age prevents him from being prosecuted for such misdeeds.

In November, the young man fled from a children’s home before being apprehended by police for breaking into a home in Hemsbach. He then faked a suicide attempt, prompting officials to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. After being taken to the hospital, the boy escaped out the back door of the ambulance. He later fled from a children’s psychological ward.

Schneider-Jaksch called the boy both “intelligent” and “nice” and said he has received intensive individual counselling since May. The youth office’s decision to send the boy to Eastern Europe follows months of stalled attempts at rehabilitation, including a plan to enrol him in a sport-training camp that failed after the young man hurt himself in a traffic accident.

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The new programme is intended to provide the 13-year-old with a “fresh start,” according to Schneider-Jaksch, who characterised it as an option for children who “can no longer be helped through normal kinds of youth assistance.”

The Bergstrasse youth office has good reason to hope that a year in Eastern Europe will help set the boy on the right path: With his 14th birthday coming up in a few months, the youngster will soon be old enough to face charges for any future crimes.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

08:38 November 18, 2009 by Greyhound54
Germany has found its GITMO. What is wrong with sending this creep to a Reform School. He can chop wood and break rocks there.

i wonder how long it will be after he returns from his exile before he commits his next crime?

Where are his parents?
09:15 November 18, 2009 by joesjungle
Wow, what else is there for this young man? I mean he gets put in a home, gets personal therapy. He's probably too smart for the adults charged with his care. So having a healthy physical program to keep him from being idle will do him some good.

Although I question how wise it is to give this kid an Axe when he's already done some pretty crafty things!
11:07 November 18, 2009 by pepsionice
From my neighborhood here in Germany...we had a 14-year old kid who had major alcohol issues. The social office finally said enough...and sent the kid to a facility in northern Finland...as remote as you can go. It was a former small school that had been shut down and barely five houses within ten miles of the site. The kid was there with a dozen other kids and it was run by a couple of German "mentors". Five months later, he comes back...totally cleaned up and mentallity right. Yes, he was chopping wood. Yes, he was hiking a couple of miles each day. Yes, he was getting a bowl of stew each evening with a glass of tea.

The sad truth is that they need to put 40,000 German kids into this kind of environment around age 14. There are major issues throughout each and every community now. Total lack of leadership in school, the community, and the cops are simply tired of messing with punk kids.
11:09 November 18, 2009 by moreanon
Why Eastern Europe? Is it policy in Germany to send its young criminals abroad? It's possible he's being returned to his country of origin, but The Local doesn't say.
12:04 November 18, 2009 by FrankSchreier
Hi from Germany too.

This is a sad but not isolated case. I don't like to send kids away either. But desperate measures are sometimes required.

There are many things that I like about our system, as opposed.. let's say, the American.

First is that no information is given to the public about the offenders, especially when they are underage. It is not our business and as a people we already are represented by state institutions to administer justice.

Second is that we don't treat kids as adults or creeps. Although they might behave as such, they are still young humans. If they were to be sent to prision (which the American system loves doing) you are simply exposing them not only to new criminal habits but also robbing themof a sense of a future. What does society wins from putting a kid away for yearsand then having them come out of the "system" and closing all doors to them?

Third is that we believe in second chances. Our punitive system might seem too liberal for Americans, who hand out years in prision for minor crimes and offer no real rehabilitation possibilities, and for whom life-in-prision sentences don't seem too harsh. But the truth is that our crime rate remains much lower that the American, so we must be doing something right. This particular program might not work for all. But we still try something better than putting then away".
14:30 November 18, 2009 by LeahG
Great point from Frank Schreier. I grew up in the US and worked with homeless and at risk youth there. I believe it is much better here how these cases are handled. They are just thrown away in juvenile detention centers until they are old enough to be thrown away in jail. There really is rehabilitation centers here that offer so much more. This child actually stands a chance. Hopefully he'll be taught how to re-channel his talents into something more useful and productive.
15:24 November 18, 2009 by berlinski
Why eastern Europe? Why not Afghanistan, where he can help the deprived locals in their day to day rebuilding of their destroyed homes and lives. Then he can come back to Germany and appreciate how lucky he is.
16:30 November 18, 2009 by maxbrando
I say send him to a russian prison. He will surely learn how an "inmate managed" system works. But Germans are cowardly for not living with what they procuced with their system of society - which is a demonstrable failure. It is run by a group of timid females afraid of their own shadows.
17:53 November 18, 2009 by berlinski
The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world. One in every 31 American adults, or 7.3 million Americans, are in prison. Are there that many people living in America who must be separated from society? Reckon I'll stay in Europe!
23:34 November 18, 2009 by wood artist
The US has no claim to success in these matters, and, in fact, I suspect the approach being taken for this boy might have a much better chance of success. In the US we're still struggling with the idea of revenge/punishment when, especially for youngsters like this, we should be seeking rehabilitation.

However, under our "enlightened" system of laws, placing a "child" in this sort of situation would be considered both excessive and abusive. Teaching him something about the value of honest labor would violate innumerable laws and rules, and taking him away from his family would violate parent's rights.

I'm thinking this is a much better idea, but then I don't get to write the laws or administer them either.
14:58 November 20, 2009 by beeker
Hope there is a bit more oversight than in the U.S.. Two deaths in re-indoctrination camps in Central Oregon and last week another camp shut down due to abuse of inmates, opps I meant students. Oh almost forgot. The parents or the state pay big bucks for tuition.
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