Exploring what happens to juvenile delinquents once they’re charged as adults

Local News

The underage suspects captured on surveillance video shooting up a home causing the death of 11-year-old Angie Erives were automatically sent to the adult system. 

Police authorities say they have seen an uptick in youth committing violent crimes, but the overall number of referrals to the juvenile justice system have dropped over the last few years.

The Department of Juvenile Justice Services is graduating its latest class of probation officers.

These men and women will be directly working with young criminals who are not sent to youth camps or the adult system.

“I just want to be a part of the community and help those, like our director mentioned; our disenfranchised,” said Jenny Rimada, a graduate, Juvenile Justice Services Parole Officer

Between 2013 and 2017 there was a 15 percent dip in the number of youth referred to juvenile justice services. There was also a decrease of 12 percent in the number of youth with prior referrals during the same period.

“We’ve seen a consistent reduction since 1996,” said Jack Martin, the director of the Dept. of Juvenile Justice Services.

Martin admits there has been a recent spike in violent crime but says its nothing new.

“This is not a new phenomenon,” according to Martin. “I think the news likes to portray it as a new, but the reality is that unfortunately that’s a part of society and it’s been a part of our society for a long time.”

Martin says in their on-going efforts to keep reducing youth crime, they are launching a new system next February that will connect them to the courts and youth camps to keep detailed profiles of kids in the juvenile justice system.

This will allow them to get a better idea of what’s working and what’s not.

“We’re struggling to keep track of the data,” Martin said.  “The data is tough. I mean we get 14,000 referrals a year so keeping track of those referrals, not having data systems that talk to each other; we’re having typical difficulties keeping track of good clean data.”

The department does keep count of how many referrals a youth has.  In 2017 — 37 percent of the juvenile delinquents didn’t have any referrals.

On average, juvenile court Judge William Voy says kids arrested for violent crimes have had three prior low-level referrals.

But when it comes to the juveniles arrested in the recent spike, “They have no prior referrals, they don’t even have a truancy citation and that’s what’s kind of scary because they’ve never touched our system and the first time they come to our system, they are coming in a very violent case; very violent crime,” said Judge William Voy, Clark County Juvenile Court Judge.

Judge Voy says they don’t keep track of how many the youth in the juvenile justice system re-offend as adults, but it’s something they are hoping to incorporate in the new system.

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