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Youthful choices

Posted: Sunday, April 28, 2002

With both profound appreciation and excitement I commend the Juneau Empire for running the letter, "Time to Reflect," in last Wednesday's Letters to the Editor column.

But even more, my heartfelt gratitude goes to the anonymous inmate at Lemon Creek prison who took the time, the courage, and especially the concern to write it.

Every Friday night for the last several months I have been going out to Johnson Youth Center, the detention side, to facilitate the young "inmates'" weekly Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting. These are young people, ranging from 12 to 17, who have somehow, in some way, broken the laws that our society has structured; but they are not yet old enough to qualify for "adult jail."

I tell them I think of them as being in a kind of "Purgatory" and that they have the chance now to go one way or the other.

Last Friday I took that "Time..." letter with me and read it out loud after our traditional meeting had gotten underway.

When I was finished, and looked around the circle, I saw no element of the lighthearted conviviality I've come to expect and often encourage. They sat silent. And then they talked and I listened.

Parents: Please, please do the same.

The age of 12 is much older than you think.

Kathryn Arlen

Meeting the Challenge advocacy program

Juneau



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