Local News

Teens Look Back on Crime With Regret

Posted September 25, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— After the violent shooting of two veteran officers in Harnett County Tuesday, everyone is shaking their heads and asking how can people who are so young be so violent.

WRAL'sAmanda Lambwent right to the source and asked some young people who had been convicted of murder that very question. What they said may surprise you.

"I hate that I assisted in taking the life of two other men," said Jeremy Hughes, inmate.

"The next day I shot him," said James Williams, inmate.

Two different young men, two very similar stories. They were both 17 when they were charged with murder, and now they're behind bars. The lure was a life of drugs, fast money and fitting in.

Marcia Morey, director of the Juvenile Crime Commission, says Hughes and Williams' stories are familiar ones. She said in the last decade violent crimes by young people in the state have increased by 172 percent, and there are several factors that contribute to the increase.

Dennis Cotton, a supervisor of the Wake County Juvenile court system, is dealing with an increasing number of violent teens. His goal is to keep them from re-offending.

And sometimes it works. Williams said he regrets what he did, while Hughes said he won't make the same mistakes again.

While rehabilitation is important, obviously the goal is to get to the young people before they become violent. The Juvenile Crime Commission says parental involvement plays an important part in prevention. Unfortunately studies show that nearly 80 percent of violent teens have just one adult in the home, and that's not always a parent.