The intent of the juvenile justice system in Indiana remains focused upon
rehabilitation, as opposed to punishment, in an effort to maximize the chances
of the juvenile becoming a well-adjusted and contributing member of our
society. Young people should not be expected to have the same values and
judgment as adults. This is especially true if they have been the victim
of poverty, neglect, and abuse. Swift and effective intervention can often
spell the difference between a law-abiding life and a career of crime. Young
lives can be salvaged. If we do not deal appropriately with them as juveniles,
we will most certainly deal with them later as adults, and the costs will
be much greater.
Nevertheless, we have seen a tremendous increase in juvenile crime in recent years,
particularly crimes of violence. To the victim, it matters very little that
the person who pulled the trigger on the gun is 16 or 17 years old instead
of 18. Mere treatment, counseling, community service, and probation can
never be the appropriate solution to violent crime. The Clark County Prosecuting
Attorney will not hesitate in using the adult criminal justice system, when
authorized by statute, to seek the strongest sanctions available against
violent and repeat criminals, regardless of age. Our target is kept on the
relatively few offenders who commit most of the violent crimes, isolating them
from the rest of society for the longest period of time. The victims of
violent crime and our society deserve no less.
Our office also has a firm commitment to take steps toward the prevention
of juvenile crime. Strong and consistent enforcement of child support obligations
and truancy laws are essential. Our schools must be kept free of gangs,
drugs, and guns. Domestic violence cases must be taken seriously in order
for our children to be raised in a safe and nurturing environment. Child
abuse and neglect cases need to remain a high priority.
This comprehensive approach is the only answer. Police, Prosecutors, Courts,
and the schools must work together with the family and our community to
meet this challenge.