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Right on Crime | August 7, 2011
During the Texas legislative session, Right on Crime’s Marc Levin testified on several bills related to criminal justice. According to a recent article in The San Antonio Express-News, one of those bills is now a law that takes aim at ensuring juvenile offenders learn from their mistakes.
Presently, most juvenile criminal violations are punished with a fine. Unfortunately, the offender’s parents must usually pay these fines, and unless the parents require their child to work off the payment in some way, a juvenile offender will typically escape with nothing more than a lecture and a slap on the wrist.
New legislation, which takes effect in September, will allow juvenile offenders charged with certain class C misdemeanors to be assessed two hundred hours of community service. In assessing community service, a judge ensures that the child, not the parents, bears the brunt of the punishment. Judges will be instantly notified if an offender fails to report for his community service, and appropriate action can be taken swiftly. Such measures have the potential to teach responsibility to juvenile offenders, reduce recidivism, and help clean up the community.
Some advocates of the legislation are optimistic that the new law will also provide great benefits to elderly residents and neglected neighborhoods across Texas. San Antonio implemented an informal juvenile community service sentencing program last year, and it has seen great success. Many senior citizens have expressed gratitude for the cleanup efforts of the young offenders.