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In todays society juveniles are being tried in adult courts given the death penalty and sent to prison Should fourteen-year olds accused of murder or rape automatically be tried as adults Should six-teen year olds and seven-teen year olds tried in adult courts be forced to serve time in adult prisons where they are more likely to be sexually assaulted and to become repeat offenders How much discretion should a judge have in deciding the fate of a juvenile accused of a crime - serious violent or otherwise The juvenile crime rate that was so alarming a few years ago has begun to fall - juvenile felony arrest rates in California have declined by more than forty percent in the last twenty years While Californias juvenile population rose by a half a million since the middle and late 1970s juveniles made up less than fifth-teen percent of Californias felony arrests in 1998 compared to thirty percent in 1978 according to the Justice Policy Institute The juvenile arrests have dropped back even as the population of kids between ages of ten and eight-teen has continued to grow and the number of kids confined in the California Youth Authority CYA has fallen With all the progress our society has made in cutting back in juvenile crimes there is still a very serious problem But if locking kids up is the best way to address it how do we explain a drop in crime when there are more teens in California and fewer in custody First we must look at the economy around us With so many job opportunities available more and more teenagers find honest ways to keep busy and make money Our generation has a brighter future than the generation a decade ago Next we look at successful crime prevention efforts after-school programs mentoring teen outreach programs truancy abatement anti-gang programs family resource centers There is evidence that these programs are beginning to pay off
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