Albany -- More than two million juveniles are arrested each year across the nation. Juvenile justice leaders from all over the state will spend the next two days here in Albany researching and debating solutions to this big national problem.
It can be a fuzzy view on life from behind the razor wire fence at the Youth Detention center in Albany. Law professionals from all over the state want to get a clearer picture of what lands youth behind bars.
"This conference will give them the tools they need to handle juvenile issues in the state," says Dr. Charles Ochie, ASU Criminal Justice Department Chairman.
At a Juvenile Justice Conference at Albany State, national, state and local experts will spend hours addressing the trends that lead to juvenile crime. "Family issues, single parent homes, education issues," says Dr. Ochie, who says another issue is drugs.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University says that 78.% of the 2.4 million juvenile arrests in 2000 involved children and teens who were under the influence of alcohol or drugs in some way.
Over half tested positive for drugs. At the time of their arrest, over 90% tested positive for marijuana.
"The sooner we get them and treat them the better. A lot of the time, we wait until it's too late," says Ochie.
Leaders believe in early intervention. Juvenile Justice trainer Dr. Fred Dyer is a trainer on juvenile justice, and says for a long time, an important factor has been ignored. "The issue-- or the neglect of addressing poverty in the lives of kids-- the failure to address juvenile offenders with co-occurring disorders," says Dyer.
And he suggests officials across the state take a hospital approach to juveniles. "The minute a kid is admitted to the hospital, discharge planning begins then. I think that's the approach we need to utilize with kids who are incarcerated," says Dyer.
These things could make a difference in how many kids continue to have this view from the fence.
Leaders say the juvenile delinquency rate is getting better in Dougherty County. Dougherty County Assistant District Attorney Greg Edwards says there was a spike in 2003, but from 2004 to 2005, there was a slight decrease in felony crime.