According to a press statement made by the Director of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, there is an alarming increase in juvenile crime and gang recruitment.
The article cited the example of a recent homicide of a Gaithersburg, Maryland girl. The investigation resulted in murder charges being brought against 10 individuals, nine of whom are juveniles. Yet this is not an isolated incident. In the past two years, over 20-gang-related murders have been committed in Southern Maryland and Northern Virginia.
At a recent Public Safety Committee meeting in Fairfax County, local leaders called for more proactive measures in schools. Some of the suggestions included after-school programs, educational resources to alert parents to warning signs, and setting up intervention protocols.
The discussion also noted the dramatic increase in undocumented immigrant children in the school systems over the past two years. Many of these undocumented minor children are unable to fluently read and/or write in their own language, which may be creating additional tensions in the school environment. It’s unclear whether federal resources might help accommodate this influx.
As local leaders continue to work together to find solutions, it is important to understand the legal framework in place for responding to juvenile crime. Although part of the larger justice system, Virginia has separate laws, procedures and courts for handling criminal offenses committed by persons less than 18 years of age. The juvenile justice system includes the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District courts, as well as various juvenile detention and correctional facilities. In our next post, we take an in-depth look at this system.
Source: WTOP, “Local leader on gang crime: ‘We should be angry about this’,” Kristi King, March 22, 2017