MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – With crime seemingly on the rise, Macon-Bibb’s district attorney has a plan that may bring on some criminal justice reform targeting youth in the community.
For juveniles doing the crime, District Attorney David Cooke says doing the time is no longer a solution.
“Essentially what we’re working toward is growing strong children so we don’t have to fix broken adults,” said Cooke.
Cooke and three other speakers discussed factors contributing to the juvenile crime rate with students at Mercer’s law school on Tuesday. They also talked solutions–one of which was started by a judge from Clayton County who says the program has been a huge success.
“If you work to address the problems they have, as opposed to simply just locking them up, they’re more likely to succeed later on and less likely to commit crimes as adults,” Cooke told 41NBC.
It’s all part of new shift toward criminal justice reform that Cooke is trying to bring to Macon. He saw it work first hand in Clayton County through reform brought on by Judge Steven Teske.
“What we really found out through 40 plus years of research is that what is really smart on crime often looks soft on crime. We now have systems and tools today that we can assess kids and even adults to determine what the underlying cause is,” said Teske.
Teske partnerd with the Clayton County School District to put together the county’s second chance probationary program and says they’ve seen amazing results.
“Our delinquent findings are down 75% of which nearly 50% are felony offenses so we have that many fewer kids committing serious crimes in Clayton County,” Teske continued.
Results that District Attorney Cooke is looking to mirror through a similar program in Macon.
“What we’re looking at doing is emulating the Clayton County model which works very hard at intervention and diversion for young kids particularly in school,” Cooke said.
Adopting a new approach to crime among juveniles with hopes to eliminate it all together.
Last year juveniles accounted for nearly a third of gun related arrests in Macon-Bibb with 266 arrests. Cooke is looking to reverse those stats using more proactive measures with this new program.
Minors in the state of Georgia can be charged as adults as early as age 13.