According to some recent local news, it appears that juvenile crime rates in Mecklenburg County have been dropping recently due to work by the police to fight teen crime and gang activity.
Numbers released from the state recently reveal that while overall violent crimes have declined by nearly 14% in the state since 2002, the number of teens younger than 16 charged with violent crimes has dropped by nearly 37%. In Mecklenburg County, the juvenile crime rate closely reflected the drops seen across the state, decreasing each year between 2007 and 2010. Despite a small rise last year, the juvenile rime rate was 29.72 per 1,000 youths, still below the 2007 rate of 31.75.
Though juvenile crime is down nationwide, the numbers show that North Carolina’s drop is almost twice as great as other states. Some say the reason is that the legal system has begun to emphasize treatment and early intervention as approaches to deal with crime among young people rather than simply punishing offenders. As a result of this new approach, the state is locking up far fewer teens than it did a decade ago.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have been commended for working hard to avoid putting young criminals into the system by giving them the opportunity to participate in programs that require them to pay restitution and receive counseling. For example, if a juvenile is caught vandalizing a building, police might take him home and make his parents aware of the situation. But rather than making a formal arrest, the officer may set him up in a deferral process that sends the young person to alternative programming rather than juvenile court.
Many of these changes got their start 15 years ago when the state legislature revamped the existing approach to juvenile justice. Legislators implemented a program that was designed to treat juveniles according to the seriousness of their crimes, the risks they posed and their personal histories. The system was changed to rely more on therapeutic alternatives and less on simple punishment.
The reforms took a while to kick in, but starting in 2006 the number of children being sent to detention centers began to drop. The change is dramatic, according to state officials who say that in 1998, North Carolina locked up 1,400 children each year in such centers while today there are only 300 kids in such facilities.
If you or a loved one needs the help of a skilled North Carolina criminal defense lawyer, turn to the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC who will provide you with the best possible defense against any charges brought against you. Contact us today at (704) 370-2828.
“Juvenile crime sees significant dip in N.C.,” by Thomasi McDonald, published at CharlotteObserver.com.
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