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N.C. Juvenile Crime Drops, But Most Violent Crimes On The Rise

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RALEIGH — Crimes involving juveniles under the age of 16 are on the decline in North Carolina. The state's crime statistics for 1997 are out, and at first glance it looks like we're making strides in the fight against crime. But, do these numbers tell the whole story?

For the past five years, violent crimes have dropped 11 percent, and the state's murder rate is down 29 percent. But in the past year, several types of crime have gone up, and that worries the state's top law enforcement official.

Attorney General Mike Easley says the state's overall crime rate is down 1 percent compared to last year, but with the exception of a 5 percent drop in the murder rate, violent crimes like rape, robbery, and aggravated assault have risen.

Easley says to counter this, we need tougher penalties for criminals who use guns.

Easley doesn't have specifics on what kind of prison terms these penalties would carry, because the cost of putting more people behind bars is a concern.

Gerald Jarrett, a professor of criminal justice at Saint Augustine's College says he supports Easley's idea. He cautions though, that it didn't deter crime in other states where the law has been used.

The figures released Monday show some places that could use new laws to deter crime, and others that have already made progress.

Raleigh and Durham had large increases. Fayetteville's overall crime index dropped slightly.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Gil Hollingsworth, Photographer
MJ Ainsley, Web Editor

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