Crime and punishment in Camden County, NJ

The story contains all the ingredients for concocting a delicious dish of instant outrage.

Juvenile delinquents in Camden County, NJ get free iPods at taxpayer expense.

What’s not to love/hate?

NJ 101.5’s morning drive host Jim Gearhart imagined kids whose bad behavior -- stealing, say, an iPod – lands them on probation, then being rewarded for good behavior (completing probation) with … an iPod.

Courier-Post columnist Jeremy Rosen, who broke the story, cheekily suggested that parents could take advantage of a ‘win-win’ holiday gift-giving option for kids gone bad.

And while the state court system, not county government, runs the one-year pilot program, Camden County issued a statement calling the incentives “disgraceful.”

Full disclosure: I enjoy a tasty bit of righteous indignation as much as (perhaps more than) anyone.

But isn’t it just possible that rewarding juvenile offenders for turning around and doing the right thing could yield long-term results?

Given the fiscal and human costs of locking up kids – see the landmark study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation here -- could an iPod prove to be a bargain?

We won't get a chance to find out.

According to a county official, the program is "not expected to be renewed."