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Governor Seeks Ways to Fight Juvenile Crime

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Governor Jim Hunt talks to workers at the Durham County Youth Center.
DURHAM — Over the past decade, violent juvenile crime inNorth Carolina has jumped 172 percent. Now, Governor Jim Hunt is trying to find the best way to reverse that trend. Monday, he held a publichearing to discuss the problems.

Juveniles can be held accountable for their actions in criminal courtor they can be shielded from justice by using their age.

The governor and members of his commission on juvenile crime admit theyare fighting an uphill battle by trying to come up with specificregulations on how North Carolina should deal with juvenile criminals.They want a proposal together by the end of January. They say they wantbalanced recommendations that will be tough on juvenile criminals but alsowant to address prevention.

The group visited the Durham County Youth Center to discuss theproblems with workers there. Employees of the Youth Center say the visitwas productive, giving the center some long-awaited attention. At thecenter, many youths wait for trial while some find a home.

Center Director Steven Price says often, a juvenile will want to staythere rather than go back to the life they left.

Superintendent Dr. Ann Denlinger told the commission about a recentincident in which a small child brought a gun to school.

The commission says it has some tough questions to ponder. Othercommissions have studied juvenile crime in the past. This one says it isdetermined to act as well.