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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Adult Crimes, Young Offenders: 'Where Do We Draw the Line?

Victoria Price was startled from sleep by an intruder who tried to rape her. Chandler Goule was followed, forced to the concrete at gunpoint and robbed. Matthew Caspari was chased down an alley at knifepoint as his wife screamed in horror.

The three victims told their stories yesterday during a public hearing about D.C. Council legislation that would allow judges to send certain cases back to juvenile court and to end the pretrial placement of youths charged as adults at the D.C. jail. Youth advocates long have maintained that the jail is unfit for juveniles.

But prosecutors and crime victims such as Price, 80, questioned whether city leaders were focused too much on the needs of alleged criminals. D.C. police recently reported that robberies by youths are on the rise. Last Friday, three teenagers -- 13, 14 and 15 -- were charged as juveniles with murder in the beating of a 56-year-old man who was attacked Oct. 6 as he walked home from a grocery store in Southwest Washington.

"I have lived here since 1973 with no iron bars on my window. Now I'm afraid in my own house," said Price, 80, of the crime two years ago at her home in Southwest Washington. "I'm not comfortable in my own neighborhood. Where do we draw the line with these young people?" [Mark Godsey]

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