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30 YEARS BOLD
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In response to the public's misconception about youth crime, there has been a lot of discussion about the need to expand the construction of juvenile prisons. The fact, however, is that juvenile crime is at its lowest rate since 1980. Moreover, most young people are detained for non-violent offenses like truancy, running away from home and property offenses. Contrary to a few sensationalized news reports, there is no youth "crime wave."

Yet, on any given day here in Georgia, over 2,500 children are locked up. Jailed youth are raped, beaten up, attempting suicide, receiving inadequate medical attention, suffering mentally, getting little to no education or rehabilitative services - and the list goes on. In short, troubled youngsters across the state are being abused by a disgraceful juvenile justice system that is doing nothing to improve their lives. The state builds more prisons to provide jobs for local residents not to rehabilitate troubled youngsters.

According to the U.S. Dept. of Justice report, Georgia's juvenile facilities lack enough space to separate younger, more vulnerable youths from older, potentially more predatory youths. In one incident, a child held for violation of probation was housed with three youths accused of armed robbery and aggravated assault and was beaten and sexually assaulted without intervention from the staff.


As a result of low levels of staffing, in another case, a male staff member convinced the only other staff member on the shift to take a nap and then sexually assaulted a 14-year old female resident. We must stop hurting our children.

The Georgia Alliance for Children wants Governor Perdue and the State Legislature to place greater emphasis on community-based prevention and correctional strategies by redirecting $50 million of the Department of Juvenile Justice's $250 million budget towards community programming. If we spend more time working with the non-violent kids at home, in school and in supervised programs structured to meet their needs. We can protect these children and make better use of public funds.

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Rick McDevitt Youth Center 30 Haygood Avenue S.W. Atlanta, GA 30315 Ph. 404-688-7327 Fax. 404-524-2850
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