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Johnnie Jordan

Essay by review  •  April 13, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,006 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,059 Views

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Upon completing What Happened to Johnnie Jordan?: the Story of a Child Turning Violent, I was struck with a feeling of frustration and agitation toward our current juvenile system. Johnnie was continually let down by his family, Children Services, foster care, and the juvenile justice system. He repeatedly displayed behaviors of a child in desperate need of help and he did not receive it. Although I believe that Johnnie should have been punished for his actions, I think that the system that he was put into was responsible as well. I was disappointed that Children Services did not learn from what happened with Johnnie and continually denied any responsibility for what happened. Even more concerning is that the agency did not make any changes, they were only concerned with diverting the blame onto Ellen Jones, former director of Children Services, and I feel that she is someone that had the initiative to make the changes in the system that are so desperately needed.

I was appalled by the response of Dean Sparks, the new director of Lucas County Children Services. The fact that he attempted to deflect blame from the agency and state that he did not believe that anything needed to be changed with the system, demonstrates apathy toward the children that they are supposed to be helping. I do, however, strongly support Representative Ford's efforts to rehabilitate the juvenile justice system in Ohio. It is too easy to simply blame the offender, in this case a child, rather than recognize that there is a problem with how society deals with youthful offenders. I also agree with Ellen Jones and her solution of a separate foster care agency inside the juvenile justice system that is made for troubled children. The children would be placed with people that are trained and educated in helping problem children.

A foster care system that would separate and rehabilitate children before they progress to more violent offenders would be a way to stop there from being more Johnnie Jordan's. As it stands now, these children have nowhere to turn and once they get in trouble are put in correctional facilities. Unfortunately, these do not rehabilitate the delinquents; rather, they seem to be a breeding ground for more sophisticated and violent offenders. Johnnie spoke and wrote about how the prison environment had hardened him. The author, Jennifer Toth, noticed it as well over the course of her communications with Johnnie.

Johnnie Jordan said repeatedly throughout the book that he did not know why he killed Mrs. Johnson. I believe that Dr. Hershel Thomas explains what may have been the reason quite well. He explains that often violence by young people happens as a response to rejection and embarrassment. Johnnie was ridiculed at school by peers and at home. He never felt that he belonged anywhere. I am actually surprised that Johnnie was not very active in a gang. I feel that the anthrological approach to why juveniles join gangs would have applied to Johnnie. He was so desperate to be loved and be part of a family that one would think that he would be the prototype of the type of child that would join a gang. Johnnie was repeatedly rejected and he finally "broke" when the Johnson's did not want to adopt him and wanted him out of their house. What is extremely frustrating is that there were numerous warning signs that this break was going to happen. The



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