Richmond Co. sees jump in juvenile crime

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Richmond County teens with few outlets and little supervision have more opportunities to commit crimes and do drugs.

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Juvenile program manager Wendell Smith (left) speaks to young people during a gang awareness presentation this week at the Department of Juvenile Justice in Augusta. The program is an effort to deter juvenile offenders from making criminal choices.
Juvenile program manager Wendell Smith (left) speaks to young people during a gang awareness presentation this week at the Department of Juvenile Justice in Augusta. The program is an effort to deter juvenile offenders from making criminal choices.

And they are.

"My docket has been riddled with more burglaries, shoplifting and theft charges," said Richmond County Juvenile Court Judge Willie Saunders. "I have a feeling we'll see an uptick this summer because there are less things for these young people to do."

A look at the past three months -- April, May and June -- reflects the upswing. Juvenile crime in Richmond County increased 23 percent from the same period last year, with 506 cases in 2009 and 413 last year, according to Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice statistics. Shoplifting has increased 51 percent, with 86 offenses in the past three months, up from 57 last year. Simple battery has increased 69 percent, with 66 cases this year and 39 last year. And drug possession of 1 ounce or less has more than doubled, with seven cases over the past three months but just three in the same period of 2008.

The economy plays a role, but the lack of family and community support is the key factor in juvenile crime, Judge Saunders said.

"There is a lack of funding for some programming, but a breakdown in the family structure plays a major role," he said. "When I grew up there was an aunt or my mother; there was someone there. Kids do not always have that in a lot of these cases."

The biggest concern with respect to juvenile crime isn't always what happens now but what the future holds for juvenile criminals, said John Nixon, a probation parole specialist for Richmond County Juvenile Court.

"Many of the people that end up in adult court start here," Mr. Nixon said. "If we're seeing more severe crimes in juvenile court, you can only imagine what will happen in a couple of years."

Simple assault, battery and armed robberies have remained constant compared to last year, but that is not good news, said Angela Cosby, the director of the Department of Juvenile Justice, District 7, which includes Richmond County.

"The burglaries and armed robberies remain the crime of choice for many kids," she said. "A lot of the times they go back for seconds, and that always leads to a serious crime path."

Rather than place every juvenile offender in detention, Ms. Cosby said her office seeks to provide a detour from criminal paths with diversion programs. Juvenile offenders learn about gang awareness, anger management and the dangers of drugs and alcohol through the workshops. Funding for diversion is limited, so the support of community volunteers is essential, Ms. Cosby said.

Judge Saunders said he entreats parents and the community to help youth make the turnaround or avoid stepping into his court chambers in the first place.

"Parents have to take a little more responsibility in policing their children," he said. "Have your child in a structured activity. I've seen so many kids with promise locked up because they had too much time on their hands."

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

BY THE NUMBERS

506

Juvenile crimes reported between April and June 2009

23%

compared with the same time last year

66

Juvenile simple battery cases between April and June 2009

69%

compared with the same time last year

86

Juvenile theft by shoplifting cases between April and June 2009

51%

compared with the same time last year

1,631

Total juvenile crimes in Richmond County reported during fiscal year 2009 (July 2008 to June 2009)

Comments (43) Add comment
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Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 07/09/09 - 01:22 am
0
0
"The idle mind is The Devil's

"The idle mind is The Devil's workshop."

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 07/09/09 - 05:43 am
0
0
"like begets like" come on

"like begets like"
come on everybody! throw out your aphorisms!

SCGAL53
0
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SCGAL53 07/09/09 - 06:52 am
0
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Parents have to take a lot

Parents have to take a lot more responsibility. These little thugs will be big thugs. A little butt whipping is due, maybe.

mgroothand
5
Points
mgroothand 07/09/09 - 07:06 am
0
0
I am so tired of parents or

I am so tired of parents or lack thereof (and other factors) being blamed for the behavior of juvenile criminals. They all know right from wrong and they themselves need to be blamed and punished. Delinquency of any kind has always been around and always will be. A good and severe punishment, not one they can brag about, nor a slap on the wrist certainly worked in my day.

2tired2argueanymore
1
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2tired2argueanymore 07/09/09 - 07:27 am
0
0
Part of the problem is the

Part of the problem is the lack of punishment from the courts. Most of these kids will get probation at most and then if they don't show up no one will enforce it. I have seen it before with defender services and the courts. I watched one person get probation and not go and when they finally arrested him they gave him more probation. The only thing they really seem to care about is the money.

lifelongresidient
0
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lifelongresidient 07/09/09 - 07:51 am
0
0
build bigger prisons, then

build bigger prisons, then have the sorry, trifling and good-for-nothing parent(s) do community service like picking up trash on the side of the highway while wearing a sign that reads "I AM A TRIFLING, SORRY, NO-GOOD PARENT WHO WILL NOT RAISE MY CHILD" the poor taxpayer should not have to foot the bill for programs that offer little if any positive return on investment, you can't make a child learn or change if they are not intrested, most only attend these anti-gang or anger management "programs" becuase they are already in jail and have not choice or in an effort to obtain early release. if they were truly intrested in change they would change their ways before getting in trouble and that does not cost the poor taxpayer anything...BTW the esteemed commissioner holland said the answer to the juvenile crime problem is to build more parks more parks or playgrounds

MJDW
0
Points
MJDW 07/09/09 - 08:37 am
0
0
Stop paying young girls that

Stop paying young girls that are having babies, make the Fathers (if you can find them) and Mothers pay for these kids to be raised by the taxpayers!!!

hillboy
0
Points
hillboy 07/09/09 - 08:45 am
0
0
in most cases its not the

in most cases its not the children that commet these crimes becouses they want too. Some times its parents that need money for rent or on drugs im so sick of people blameing the children sometime the only role model they have is tom, or dick on the corner im not saying they dont no right from wrong but do u know how hard a job is to come by while they are looking for a job the bills still have to get payed most of yall are saying its another way but many to most times thats all they got im speaking from exspirence most of you all had a mom or dad with a job.Its not that we want to do wrong but every one that commet a crime is not a criminal...think about that its true

ladyjanegrey
0
Points
ladyjanegrey 07/09/09 - 08:50 am
0
0
sterilization................

sterilization........................

devharris46
0
Points
devharris46 07/09/09 - 09:27 am
0
0
REAL SOLUTION at

REAL SOLUTION at www.fullcirclerefuge.org Lets take ACTION and see a major CHANGE in our community!

rufus
2
Points
rufus 07/09/09 - 09:34 am
0
0
hillboy, it's a crime the way

hillboy, it's a crime the way you write

bone
23
Points
bone 07/09/09 - 10:44 am
0
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the gubment is to blame,

the gubment is to blame, checkit? fer cryin' out loud, when is ANYONE gonna be responsible for their actions (if adult) or their children's actions (if custodial parent)????? what am i missing here????? what is an "at-risk community," anyway? is this the community that is at-risk of getting put to the curb anytime social programs are on the chopping block? could i possibly ask any more (rhetorical) questions?

What4
0
Points
What4 07/09/09 - 10:47 am
0
0
The sad fact is that these

The sad fact is that these numbers only reflect those crimes reported and the criminals we have caught. Tip of the iceberg!! We need to take a harder stand with juvenile crime.

Riverman1
84011
Points
Riverman1 07/09/09 - 11:03 am
0
0
I thought the Augusta Ink

I thought the Augusta Ink sting ended all crime in the western hemisphere?

Waymore
103
Points
Waymore 07/09/09 - 12:50 pm
0
0
Yes, hillboy...everyone that

Yes, hillboy...everyone that commits a crime is, in fact, a criminal. Excusing the behavior compounds the problem. These little thugs aren't committing crime to survive; they commit the crimes to buy drugs or to buy stuff to "keep up with the Jonses." There are nothing more than criminal vermin. And we all know how to stop vermin.

Waymore
103
Points
Waymore 07/09/09 - 12:52 pm
0
0
I thought that the election

I thought that the election of the "new messiah" would cure all our problems.

1trugent
0
Points
1trugent 07/09/09 - 12:52 pm
0
0
I thought Obama's election

I thought Obama's election would.

jack
10
Points
jack 07/09/09 - 03:29 pm
0
0
My kids had summr jobs when

My kids had summr jobs when they were teens. Sure kept them out of trouble and gave them money to spend. They weren't taught that the gum'unt owed them, either.

jewel
3
Points
jewel 07/09/09 - 04:05 pm
0
0
Parental involvement is so

Parental involvement is so crucial.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 07/09/09 - 05:14 pm
0
0
Its the boom boom boom guys

Its the boom boom boom guys that need a lesson. They are like the pied pipers attracting very young folks with their disdain for police or neighborhoods. I believe a zero tollerance for these music booming idiots would send a message to all the young punks - your role models don't own this town. Further, I believe the fine is well over 400 dollars so it would help out in these tough times if these drug dealers were being fined. BTW Jack I totally agree with you, but child labor laws have changed to where a kid can't find a job anywhere.

lifelongresidient
0
Points
lifelongresidient 07/09/09 - 05:52 pm
0
0
one other thing.....anger

one other thing.....anger management classes!?!?!?!?!!!, let me get this straight, they walk around with their pants down below their waist, can't read or write and more than likely a high school drop out...what is there to be mad about????? no one forced them to drop out of school or wear their pants 2 inches above their knees, if anyone has the right to be angry, it's the poor taxpayers who fund the unnecessary, wasteful and useless programs in an attempt to reach the "at risk Youths", which i just call them sorry and good for nothing children. it is the parent(s) responsibility to raise their own children society should not have to shoulder that burden and when they get in trouble they should be made at themselves, not society because society was not the cause of them being in jail. i know i wouldn't hire someone with sagging clothes, gold teeth in ther mouth to work for me, if you don't respect yourself to wear clothes that fit then you wont respect me or my customers

mad_max
0
Points
mad_max 07/09/09 - 06:04 pm
0
0
Parental involvement does no

Parental involvement does no good when momma is more ignorant than the kid., And daddy, if they knew who he was, probably is too. At risk? Of course they are at risk when they are born to an ignorant momma on welfare, don't know who daddy was, come up on the streets, and get sent to schools where the teachers can't speak English or put a coherent sentence together. Can this be fixed? Not in our lifetime. Not as long as we encourage more welfare and take away all incentive to get educated and work for a living. Build more prisons for the ones we catch after the crime and carry a gun to take care of the ones we catch during the crime. That's the only viable answer and you know it's true. Don't fight it. Accept the consequences of our welfare society and get a gun and deal with it.

LCC0256
634
Points
LCC0256 07/09/09 - 06:28 pm
0
0
isn't it a shame that

isn't it a shame that immediately the answer to teenagers NOT acting responsible & law abiding is "funding for GIVErment programs" not being enough..i know for an absolute fact that a healthy young male (or female) CAN get a JOB either day labor or working in entry level positions in the workforce. Look around you - notice all the YOUNG Mexicans working?

colcamp1
10
Points
colcamp1 07/09/09 - 07:36 pm
0
0
I thought that Reagan and

I thought that Reagan and Bush did.

Waymore
103
Points
Waymore 07/09/09 - 08:34 pm
0
0
Colcamp1, we are waiting on

Colcamp1, we are waiting on the "change" that was promised. It's a new day, a new regime..Reagan and Bush are not in charge, the "messiah" that is going to change the world is. I can see a big "change" already..

proud2bamerican
441
Points
proud2bamerican 07/09/09 - 09:42 pm
0
0
REAL SOLUTION at

REAL SOLUTION at www.fullcirclerefuge.org
Lets take ACTION and see a major CHANGE
in our community!

proud2bamerican
441
Points
proud2bamerican 07/09/09 - 09:45 pm
0
0
Follow the steps to a

Follow the steps to a solution at work... www.fullcirclerefuge.org

KSL
129739
Points
KSL 07/09/09 - 10:47 pm
0
0
This article mentions

This article mentions diversion programs. But there is no mention of whether they indeed are working. From the stats in the article, one could be led to believe that they are not working.

KSL
129739
Points
KSL 07/09/09 - 10:48 pm
0
0
Holding parents of repeat

Holding parents of repeat offenders responsible would be a good start. Discontinuing the reward to young women for having babies would be another.

bone
23
Points
bone 07/09/09 - 10:59 pm
0
0
breeders = females spawning

breeders = females spawning uncontrollably. i refuse to consider them part of civilized culture.

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