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Juvenile Hall Heroes

May 15, 1988

Thank you for your article on Tijuana's juvenile hall ("Migrant Youths Face Trip to Crowded Tijuana Jail," April 10). We live in Tijuana and maintain a home for young men from the juvenile hall and the streets of this city. We have been visiting the facility once or twice a week for the past four years, and we concur with your observations.

One major item not mentioned in your report involves the heroic effort of the staff. We have seen how the social workers, the psychologists and the administrative team have time and again gone far beyond their duty to help kids. They will take them to their own homes, find them jobs, assist them in times of trouble and need, and share their own lives with them. Their pay is meager, their working conditions poor, but their dedication is truly admirable.

In fact, the human side of the Mexican system recommends it over its counterpart on the other side of the border, which we also know well. The kids who have been incarcerated on both sides invariably prefer it here or say it is all the same in spite of the crowding, etc.

Your call for use of the new facility should be answered immediately. Everyone is tired of waiting for highly placed officials to act. Unfortunately, political machinations often obstruct societal demands. We have clearly offered our views to the authorities and have not been successful in promoting a change in location.

We feel that children's needs and rights should come first. In this city, too much civic attention goes to promoting tourism and the labor-exploiting maquiladoras, and not enough goes to their own children.

FATHER JAIME ARTURO HAGAN

ROBERTO L. LOCHNER

Centro Juvenil Camino y Verdad

Tijuana

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