Concerns about city's youth discussed

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Growing concerns about Augusta's youth topped the list of issues discussed Wednesday at the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History's senior luncheon.

Sen. Ed Tarver (second from left) and State Court Judge David Watkins (right) talk with attendees of the luncheon. Provisions for grandparents raising their grandchildren were discussed.  Michael Snyder/Staff
Michael Snyder/Staff
Sen. Ed Tarver (second from left) and State Court Judge David Watkins (right) talk with attendees of the luncheon. Provisions for grandparents raising their grandchildren were discussed.

A panel of legal experts and lawmakers spoke to the group about issues affecting Georgians, such as the growing number of juvenile criminals and the rights of grandparents.

State Sen. Ed Tarver, D-Augusta, spoke to seniors and others at the luncheon about provisions for grandparents who raise their grandchildren.

"We're looking at modifying legislation so that those grandparents will have access to public resources in their time of need while taking on the responsibility of raising their grandchildren," he said.

Juanita Williams taught in Augusta and Richmond County schools for close to 40 years. She came to the luncheon to see what State Court Judge David Watkins had to say about rehabilitating Augusta's youth.

"Young people are still a concern to me, so I wondered if they found other ways to correct them besides making them do time," Mrs. Williams said.

Judge Watkins spoke about the challenge of dealing with more and more youth offenders.

He emphasized the importance of "creative sentencing," which involves putting young offenders in do-right programs, in some cases, rather than incarcerating them.

Youths made up about 15 percent of Georgia courts' caseload in the late 1990s when Judge Watkins became a judge, he said.

Now 40 percent of the more than 35,000 statewide cases deal with young defendants.

"We have reached somewhat of a crisis stage," he said. "Judges now are wearing many hats due to the amount of young people we work with."

Most of the youths prosecuted are repeat offenders, Judge Watkins said.

Preventive school programs have been key in keeping youth out of Judge Watkins' courtroom, he said.

"In order to really get to them, they have to see it, hear it, smell it and almost feel it," Judge Watkins said.

"We try to get to them before they get to us."

Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.

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patriciathomas
44
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patriciathomas 05/22/08 - 04:14 am
0
0
Continuing to take the same

Continuing to take the same action and expecting different results is one of the definitions of insanity. Again, all that is addressed is the symptoms and how to treat them. The root cause continues to be ignored. Replacing parents with a government check and training young people that accountability, responsibility and achievement are unimportant will continue to produce an inordinate percentage of delinquents. (and has for the last 40 years) Hasn't anyone noticed the racial makeup of our prisons? This is not a racial problem, it's cultural.

GnipGnop
13757
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GnipGnop 05/22/08 - 05:22 am
0
0
They are repeat offenders

They are repeat offenders because they are given a slap on the wrist until they are 18. Once they are 18 their record gets expunged and is not subject to the open records laws. I'm all for giving someone a second chance but a 3rd 4th and 5th? Where and when does it end? Here's another thought, why don't we make the persons responsible for bringing those children into the world take care of them. Lot's of people have problems but they work through them and make sacrifices. I am raising 2 teenagers of my own and have taken in 2 more, never asked for a dime from the government. I have made sacrifices and done without. That's what a PARENT does for their kids.

LaTwon
1
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LaTwon 05/22/08 - 08:01 am
0
0
more fruit of the welfare

more fruit of the welfare state............

WHATDIDIDO
0
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WHATDIDIDO 05/22/08 - 08:44 am
0
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No, enlighten us to the "

No, enlighten us to the " Racial make up of the prison".

DeborahElliott2
4
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DeborahElliott2 05/22/08 - 08:46 am
0
0
The trend still exists.

The trend still exists. Grandparents on SSN and living a low income life in the eyes of a kid, and that kid thinks that the only way out of that situation is crime. Grandparents don't listen to the kids, and makes the kids feel unwelcomed to begin with, or it has to do with L-O-V-E in a way the kids just don't get nowadays. I lived with my grandma for a long long time before finding out I was an unwanted child, but I grew up learning values that my real parents never taught me, and I am a better person for that. The problem is, if the kid knows they are not welcomed or wanted, they turn to the only source they know for help and it is another kid. Some have good friends like we did when we were young, and some have bad apples who are in gangs. This is where a grandparent can get into trouble if they are so lenient with their grandchild(ren).

KingJames
12
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KingJames 05/22/08 - 09:36 am
0
0
I suppose no one ever thought

I suppose no one ever thought to link benefits and services to good behavior. If a stipulation that kids get good grades and attend intervention programs were attached to getting public assistance, then I think part of the problem could be solved. A lot of people get a check, EBT, and rent. If the behavior and academic performance of their children were linked to those benefits, then parents might actually parent. So if a kid gets into trouble and is found guilty in juvenile court, a portion of the costs to arrest, jail, and try the kid should come out of the parent's benefits. This way, the kid will understand that crime will effect his entire family. The same could be done for truancy and bad conduct in school. If a kid is suspended from school, then a portion of the family's benefits should be cut. All of these kids should be in some type of intervention program. Failure to attend would mean a portion of the benefit is cut. For too long people have gotten paid for doing the wrong thing. Maybe they will do the right thing to keep their money. Hopefully, the forced lessons learned by the kids will break the family's welfare cycle of dependence.

jackfruitpaper833
41
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jackfruitpaper833 05/22/08 - 09:38 am
0
0
So was anyone else there...

So was anyone else there...

BoldTruth
0
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BoldTruth 05/22/08 - 10:40 am
0
0
We need to be concerned about

We need to be concerned about the parents of these youths. If each parent would take control of their kids then alot of this would not be happening. Where is discipline in the home?

426Hemi
0
Points
426Hemi 05/22/08 - 10:48 am
0
0
HYPO, is it really that

HYPO, is it really that difficult to figure out. Just look at the captioned photo, and read this: "Growing concerns about Augusta's youth topped the list of issues discussed Wednesday at the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History's senior luncheon." Think "we" were invited to the LCLMofB luncheon? I do believe you know the answer!

dani
13
Points
dani 05/22/08 - 11:50 am
0
0
You need to know the meaning

You need to know the meaning of "racial" and "culture" before you can understand the difference.

critter
2
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critter 05/22/08 - 12:00 pm
0
0
Why are the grandparents

Why are the grandparents given the kids when they're the ones who raised the parent that just screwed up so badly?

WHATDIDIDO
0
Points
WHATDIDIDO 05/22/08 - 12:33 pm
0
0
No. I do not but I am sure

No. I do not but I am sure you all do. I would think that whoever is the majority, would be in the majority population wise. Now if you wish to play the percentage game, that is a different story.

christian134
2
Points
christian134 05/22/08 - 12:42 pm
0
0
The problem lies in the

The problem lies in the destruction of the family unit...One complete with mother and father together married and attending a church of their choice....Having babies is not supposed to be a common state of affairs it is supposed to be a great happening where both parents are involved with the child's upbringing for life or until they are old enough to make it own their own...Having babies to obtain more government checks and services certainly is not the way to instill good moral values when it comes to raising these children...Furthermore grandparents should not be responsible for raising their own children's children...

TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 05/22/08 - 01:41 pm
0
0
lol critter.. good point.

lol critter.. good point. Not always, but most of the time the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!!!

owensjef
13
Points
owensjef 05/22/08 - 05:17 pm
0
0
King James I see you are

King James I see you are thinking, keep it up .

Craig Spinks
819
Points
Craig Spinks 05/22/08 - 05:23 pm
0
0
Anyone who wants TO DO

Anyone who wants TO DO SOMETHING besides writing and talking to address the development- or lack thereof- of our youth is invited to join the "Dads in Action" program sponsored by the RCSO, the RCBOE and the RCPTA. Be part of the effort to make schools better by introducing Dads, Granddads and other responsible adult males into our classrooms!

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