On March 31, 2007, the enhanced punishment provisions of "An Act Further Regulating Driver Education and Junior Operator’s Licenses" (signed January 3, 2007) went into effect. (See http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/seslaw06/sl060428.htm)
"State officials" said, "The new law is meant to create a zero-tolerance environment for speeding or other unsafe driving by teenagers." ("Young drivers face stiffer penalties starting today," Boston Globe, 3/31/07; http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/03/31/young_drivers_face_stiffer_penalties_starting_today/)
On Saturday night, while discussing the absurdity of a law that sends a polite, teen who was only going 7 miles an hour over the limit to "Road Rage" classes; WTTK's Michael Graham referred to it as "a Lite Brite moment".
Meanwhile, last night, Peter "Zebbler" Berdovsky and Sean Stevens were on Fox News Channel's "Geraldo at Large;" still apologetic for the inconvenience the ATHF Mooninites caused in the Boston area. Zebbler urged us to have open discussions about the causes of the fear that led to an L.E.D. cartoon causing roads, waterways and public transportation to be closed. Stevens suggested that we need to consider whether we want more love or more fear.
I have found that often the administration of zero tolerance policies result in actions with zero intelligence. I hope we can add some intelligence to the Junior Operator’s Licence policy and the justice system overall by looking to Restorative Justice principles (as the AG mentioned in her nolle prosequi documents in the Charlestown District Court and at her May 11, 2007 press conference). Restorative Justice and other diversion programs examine the specific needs of offenders like the teen whom Graham was discussing.
It would serve our society better if we were to explore opportunities for expanding justice, tolerance and education. We need to shift the emphasis from fear and punishment toward "a better way" of dealing with danger and harm. (See "Your View: Another way to handle hazing," Robert E. Heskett, New Bedford Standard-Times, May 22, 2007, http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007705220314.)