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Some European Prisons Are Based On Dignity Instead Of Dehumanization

On a cold morning in February 2013, I led a group of American policymakers and criminal justice practitioners — judges, public defenders, legislators, corrections officials, law professors — on a visit to a juvenile prison in eastern Germany. We met with a group of young men, largely between the ages 18 and 21, who were serving between two to five years at the facility; most had been convicted of a violent offense. Although these young men certainly looked like teenagers or very young adults — dressed in jeans, cargo pants, colorful T-shirts, sweatshirts, and baseball caps — they would certainly not be considered “juveniles” in the American system of punishment, which generally caps the upper age of juvenile status at 17.
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