• 39°

Governor targeting juvenile crime

The Associated Press

Lawmakers, Taft and the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission are expected to release their proposals in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, August 10, 1999

Lawmakers, Taft and the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission are expected to release their proposals in the next few weeks. The ideas are expected to include making parents responsible for their children’s actions and allowing judges to sentence underage offenders past the age of 21.

Also, Taft and Attorney General Betty Montgomery are sponsoring a Safe Schools Summit in Columbus Aug. 18 and 19. The summit is in reaction to the recent school violence and concern over increasing problems with juvenile crime.

The overall crime rate in Ohio is declining, but juvenile arrests have been on the rise. From 1987 to 1996, juvenile arrests increased 20 percent, drug juvenile arrests tripled, and cases of unruly and delinquent youths rose 20 percent.

”We have to be able to take care of the most violent kids while trying to salvage some of the others,” David Diroll, the commission’s executive director, told The Columbus Dispatch for a story Sunday.

However, Diroll said the state must be careful in the aftermath of the recent school shootings.

”I think there is a danger of overreacting. The Legislature is a reactive body. But it is shocking how violent some of the incidents are.”

While details of Taft’s proposal are being finalized, a spokesman said the legislation will include elements Taft touted during last year’s gubernatorial campaign: strengthening Ohio’s parental responsibility law, giving judges greater sentencing discretion in dealing with juvenile offenders and making some juvenile records more accessible.

During his campaign, Taft also sought a ”safe storage” law for guns that would have gun owners facing felony charges if their weapon was used in a violent crime. He also wants to require gun dealers to offer trigger locks when they sell weapons.

The sentencing commission expects to finish its proposal to restructure the juvenile laws in the next few weeks.

Diroll said the commission wants to allow judges to simultaneously impose juvenile and adult sentences, sentence juvenile offenders to the age of 25 and incarcerate offenders as young as 10.