Police in Virginia have charged a juvenile with using a firearm in commission of a felony and robbery in connection with an incident involving a U.S. Postal Service mail carrier on Aug. 20. Media reports indicate that a mail carrier was robbed at gunpoint in Richmond's Oakwood neighborhood as he was delivering mail on R Street at approximately 11:45 a.m. The Richmond Police Department says that a description provided by an eyewitness helped them to identify the boy.
Juveniles facing criminal charges in Virginia could benefit from changing approaches to the sentencing of youthful offenders. Two rulings from the Supreme Court of the United States have shifted the emphasis from extreme punishment of juvenile criminal offenders to one of rehabilitation.
A 17-year-old Virginia student has been taken into custody on weapons charges for allegedly threatening an attack on his school on what would have been the anniversary of the Columbine High School attack. According to an affidavit, a 16-year-old classmate said the older student had spoken about the Columbine attack several times throughout the school year.
Juvenile justice requires a special sensitivity. This is widely recognized here in Virginia as well as the rest of the country. The fact that an entire system is dedicated to the special handling of juvenile offenses reflects the widely held view that young people who commit crimes often do so out of ignorance rather than forethought. The logic that follows is that education should be preferred over incarceration for most juveniles.
A big part of growing up is learning from your mistakes. While parents and other role models can attempt to guide and keep a child safe and out of trouble, by the time a child enters middle or high school, peer pressure often trumps any such advice and, for some kids, mistakes and errors in judgment can have serious consequences.
Many parents assume that their child's juvenile criminal convictions won't have a serious impact or lasting consequences once the child turns 18 years of age. However, in Virginia, that is not how it works.
For many parents in Virginia and throughout the country, seeing young people on the news or in the paper being arrested for drug crimes and other charges can hit close to home. Young people who go to school, maintain good grades, and avoid trouble can still make mistakes or be around the wrong crowd at the wrong time.