Texas is a largely Christian state that appears to believe in neither forgiveness nor redemption. Last week, The Guardian revealed the extent to which it has criminalised its children. Police now patrol the schools, arresting and charging pupils as young as six for breaches of discipline.
Among the villainies for which they have been apprehended are throwing paper aeroplanes, using perfume in class, cheeking the teacher, wearing the wrong clothes, and arriving late for school. A 12-year-old boy with attention deficit disorder was imprisoned for turning over a desk; six years later, he's still inside. Children convicted of these enormities — 300,000 such tickets were issued by Texas police in 2010 — acquire a criminal record. This can make them ineligible for federal aid at university and for much subsequent employment.
Yet most of them have committed no recognised crime. As one of the judges who hears their cases explained, “If any adult did it it's not going to be a violation”.
On the other hand, no charges have been brought against a Texas judge called William Adams. Last year a video was released which showed him beating the living daylights out of his daughter with a leather belt. The attack was so savage that when I watched it I nearly threw up. Adams cannot be prosecuted because the beating took place eight years ago. But even if it had happened yesterday, he might not have been charged, as he could have claimed that he was disciplining his child. In both cases the law permits people to do things to children that they could not do to adults.