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More Aid for Juvenile Criminals

I agree with the article ``Trust Us to Deal With Criminal Youth, Contend Juvenile-Court Judges,'' March 3. With all of the social problems in the US, none is more disturbing than the increase in teenage violence - which has reached epidemic proportions in urban America and now is spreading into the suburbs and rural communities.

The new laws enacted or pending in Congress and many state legislatures, including the recent Brady bill, are a step in the right direction. But we need to focus our resources on preventive measures. For many years we have neglected and shortchanged the juvenile justice system with very little money. A very small percentage of the US criminal justice system budget is allotted for the needs of juvenile criminals, who still have a chance to change their lifestyle and live productive lives.

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We need to spend more money and focus more of our energy on rehabilitating those young people currently in the juvenile system. We need to commit money and other resources to help local communities establish job training programs; we need positive role models to work with the youth; and we need to fund programs to keep teenagers off the streets. By supporting community programs and getting tough with first-time offenders, we can slow down the growth of juvenile crime and become a better, more productive society. Corey Gunsolley, Rexburg, Idaho

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