The Juvenile Justice System. From the perspective of a street cop.
An anonymous Patrol Officer
The young offender in question just turned 16 earlier this year.
He began his criminal career in 2008, with an assault. He was given diversion.
He somehow managed to avoid arrests until 2012 when he was charged with yet another assault.
Two weeks after the assault arrest, he was arrested yet again for unlawful occupancy (being a passenger in a stolen car) and was placed on juvenile probation.
The Juvenile Probation order requires him to attend school.
He ran away in February of 2013. Warrants for his arrest were issued and he was eventually locked up in the Youth Center.
He soon was released.
He ran away again in March and April of 2013. Warrants for his arrest were issued again, and soon he was locked up in the Youth Center.
He soon was released.
He ran away again May of 2013. Warrants for his arrest were issued yet again.
In July 2013, the suspect was stopped by officers as a passenger in another stolen vehicle.
He fled and officers had to engage in a foot pursuit through the projects. The offender was caught after an extensive manhunt.
The offender was locked up in Youth Center yet again, but a Juvenile Judge soon gave him more probation and declared “this is last attempt at home placement!”.
He was again released.
The offender was required to enroll in an OPS alternative school.
He was soon truant in October and suspended twice in November. One of the suspensions stemmed from being arrested for assaulting another student.
The assault charge was eventually dismissed.
He was again suspended in January, February and March. The last suspension was for being under influence of marijuana.
At the time of his most recent Juvenile Court hearing, he was suspended from school yet again.
Despite the fact that one of the many terms of his Juvenile Probation was to “attend regular sessions of school without any unexcused absences”, never once was his juvenile probation revoked, either for the new charge of assault, or the constant truancy and suspensions.
In preparation for juvenile court, I took the time to print off his terrible school attendance record as well as his probation order, which he was clearly -and constantly- in violation of.
I counted 31 times where he has been truant from 10/2013 to 3/2014.
I handed it to the prosecutor and asked why his probation hadn’t been revoked long ago.
She pointed to the Juvenile Courtroom, and told me that the reason he hasn’t been revoked is because of the Juvenile Judge who sits on the other side of the courtroom door.
As a result of the latest juvenile court proceeding, the offender was remanded to Boys Town.
One day later, the offender was on the run again and now has three warrants for unlawful absence.
So now… I am looking for him….AGAIN.
Over the years, his name has come up in numerous serious unsolved felonies.
I have never been able to pin any on him.
When he was staying with a family member, his relative reported a theft/burglary in which guns were stolen.
The relatives was convinced that the offender was involved.
His criminal career is not nearly as bad as some of the other kids we deal with every day, but he appears to be heading that way and it seems clear to me that there is really no real intervention taking place to stop it.
Although I am frustrated by the fact that the prosecutors and juvenile probation seem so hesitant to attempt to violate young offenders’ probation, I do understand that in reality they are likely equally as frustrated by being constantly hamstrung by the ever forgiving Juvenile Court Judges.
Equally perplexing to me is that despite the fact that this offender has missed nearly 75% of his classes due to truancy or suspension, he still has somehow managed to achieve passing grades in several of his classes.
Hopefully that is because he is secretly brilliant, as opposed to simply being handed yet another “free pass” by yet another government entity.
There are hundreds of other kids out there in our city just like this one.
Cases like this lead one to wonder…
Is the current constantly forgiving approach taken by our Juvenile Justice System truly helping these kids?
Or it is only making them worse?