I jumped on the #justiceforjane (on facebook as well) bandwagon pretty quickly. Hearing this story I didn’t know how you could not. Jane Doe is a 16 year old transgendered youth imprisoned in an adult prison in Connecticut. The rationale being that they could not keep her safe as she is so violent. I began to think about where this issue exists in our conscience as a nation.
This comes on the heels of a national debate about justice with the case of Bowe Bergdahl. He is a U.S. soldier who returned as prisoner of war. He was released in exchange for 5 Taliban leaders. There is a lot of controversy whether he was a hero or a deserter. Before he became a prisoner of war there appears to be huge questions about how he got there. It is alleged that he did not follow procedure, and perhaps colluded with the enemy. Some say the exchange his freedom for 5 Taliban leaders is unjust.
First, is it “just” to free a prisoner of war if they did not follow procedure and (as alleged) collude with the enemy? This has been a very polarizing issue that has made national news. Let’s compare this to a 16 year old being held in an adult prison. Is it “just” for a 16 year old to be moved to an adult prison because they are “too violent?” To complicate matters this a young person who is transgendered.
When it comes to social justice issues, I sometimes I wish I was not a social worker. Ignorance would be bliss. I could go by just chatting with friends about national news without knowing there is a young person in an adult prison for being TOO VIOLENT. Knowing that there clearly needs to be a good bio-psychosocial, psychological, and psychiatric assessment to develop a treatment plan to reduce violence. Our role as those in the helping professions is to use our values to highlight the need to DO WHAT IS RIGHT.
The pit of my stomach was saying “why is the nation not talking about #justiceforjane but we are talking about Bowe Bergdahl?” I realized I was going down a slippery slope. Should all confidential stories of not getting access to the appropriate services be front page, national, and international news? Comparing these two stories got me more in tune with thinking “THAT IS JUST NOT RIGHT.” I realized that it does not have to be front page news but should always be in our conscience. We can raise awareness of that to your caseload, the unit you work on, your coworkers, fellow advocates and/or the community you serve. Please never lose that sense of “Hey that is just not right and I should do something about it.”