Judge says tougher sentences needed for gang problems - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Judge wants tougher sentences for gang problems

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) – A Dougherty County Juvenile Court Judge says young gang members are running rampant, because they know they won't be punished severely.

He wants to bring back tough youth prison boot camps.

Judge Richard Brooker says he's seeing more teenagers than ever involved with gangs, drugs, and guns.

He says they have no respect for authority, and it's time to put a little fear in them.

Judge Brooker told the Gang Task Force that Albany is moving closer to chaos, because even if young gang members are caught, they're often only sentenced to 30 days. The Judge says you need to tell state legislators to bring back the boot camps.

Judge Richard Brooker says he has seen more burglary cases in six months in his juvenile court than in all of last year.

Brooker said "The cases that we see are cases where the juvenile is in the gang, and they are breaking into homes and they are getting guns. And they are really going to use them in these gangs."

Brooker said gangs don't respect school officials. Octobers 11th in one of the Monroe High School bathrooms 5 gang members beat two boys into their gang, even though the two boys did not want it.

Brooker said "They were bruised, they had been kicked, shiners on the eyes, swollen eyes, and so forth. And the amazing thing about it, just totally blew my mind, these two juveniles that were beat into the gang, did not report it all day long."

Brooker said gang members act up to get schools to suspend them.

Brooker said "That gives me ten days to sit at home. Contact other gang members, burglarize 3 or 4 more homes. Smoke some dope. That's exactly what they want."

Brooker said Westside gang members were so bold that they posted a gang beat in on their Myspace page.

Brooker said "we have kids coming in, on their myspace pictures of them sitting there with an Uzi or a shotgun, that's their picture."

The Judge says state budget cutbacks keep them from giving real punishment to these gang juveniles, and says the boot camps need to be put back in the budget to put some teeth back in the juvenile judicial system.

Brooker said "Legislators are the only ones who can change this. You and I can't change this, but if we know what is going on, obviously we can at least inform them of what we think about it."

Judge Brooker said that juvenile judges are livid about the thirty day maximum youth detention sentence for many juvenile crimes, and that things need to change quick.Judge Brooker said most juvenile court judges he knows want more freedom to hand out tougher sentences.

Gang Task Force officers say most of the gang members they see committing crimes in Albany are juveniles.

The Judge says if you're concerned about those gangsters, you should contact your state lawmakers.

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