WOW! The Ada Commishes can get things done quickly when they want to.
After a Friday GUARDIAN posting brought allegations to their attention regarding SLAVE LABOR (a catchy headline we thought), they convened a hasty Tuesday meeting to discuss the practice of sentencing juvenile offenders to work at a private commercial enterprise.
The Commishes unanimously agreed at the Tuesday public meeting to abolish slavery. They said the practice of sentencing youth to work for free at a commercial enterprise was improper and ordered the juvenile services people to make community service just that–COMMUNITY service.
Chairman Fred Tilman told Ada juvenile services director Steven Dye in no uncertain terms, “If you have any legal questions regarding where to place juveniles on work details–don’t ask for legal advice, just don’t do it! We are not interested in seeing how close to the line we can come. Err on the side of caution.”
Tilman spoke for all three Commishes when he said, “Our policy is NOT to place kids in private businesses to complete community service.” The issue was discussed specifically because a GUARDIAN reader had made it public.
Discussion at the meeting revealed the “rationale” for allowing youth offenders to complete their court mandated free labor at a commercial pet grooming facility was OK because the facility in the past had done pro bono work (“free” for you non-library types) for the Humane Society. We thought that to be a stretch–sort of like providing free bagger staff at a super market if the store donates food to the zoo or a food bank.
Dye said youth offenders had been doing free labor for 5-6 years at the facility. He had asked the county attorney for a legal opinion July 30, but had not received an answer. When Commish Rick Yzaguirre was told children were still being assigned to the pet wash even after Dye had questioned the practice himself, the Commish said the practice should stop immediately.
Kudos to the commishes and the folks who run the juvenile facility. While they may not have monitored their program as closely as they should have, once a problem was made public, they rushed to correct it.
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