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Getting serious about teen violence in Washington, D.C.: Louisville, Kentucky, provides a solution

In this opinion editorial published in The Washington Times, Joshua Crawford highlights the escalating crime crisis in Washington, D.C., particularly focusing on a significant surge in violent crimes, including a staggering 104% increase in carjackings from the previous year. Crawford points out that a majority of carjacking arrestees in the city are under 18, with many being repeat offenders associated with or recruited by street gangs. The author suggests that Washington can learn from Louisville, Kentucky’s successful efforts to address teen violence. In Louisville, Republican state Rep. Kevin Bratcher spearheaded House Bill 3, a comprehensive measure aimed at holding violent juvenile offenders accountable and providing treatment. The bill mandates immediate detention for juveniles charged with serious violent offenses, offering a disruptive intervention in the cycle of violence. It also allocates funds for a new detention center and treatment programs, including cognitive behavioral therapy.

The new law creates early intervention points for truants who show no improvement in their diversion programs. It does so by allowing an interdisciplinary team to alter the treatment modalities earlier and a judge to hold noncompliant parents accountable if they willingly refuse to aid in their child’s diversion plan. Unresolved truancy is strongly predictive of future juvenile delinquency and even adult criminality. So, getting it right with those children today can prevent serious violence tomorrow.”

Crawford emphasizes the importance of early intervention, proposing measures like altering treatment modalities for truants and holding noncompliant parents accountable. He also advocates for stronger penalties for adults involved in driving juvenile violence, citing the success of Kentucky’s stricter penalties for recruiting juveniles into gangs.

The article concludes by asserting that, while juvenile violence continues to rise in Washington, D.C., Louisville has seen a leveling off and signs of decline in total shootings, suggesting that bold action and the adoption of effective policies can reverse the trend in public safety.

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