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New program seeks to prevent juvenile crime

A juvenile delinquent is a minor, generally between the ages of 10 and 18, who commits an illegal act like underage drinking or shoplifting. Instead of a trial, juveniles receive an "adjudication" and a "disposition." It is after the disposition that the juvenile is sentenced. Juvenile crimes fall into one of two categories. The fist involves crimes that would be considered criminal acts if they were committed by an adult. The second category involves "age-related" crimes. Both can have serious consequences.

A program that was initiated in Vineland in 2009 to prevent and reduce juvenile crime also is now being expanded into Bridgeton and Millville Counties. The program, known as the County-Wide Juvenile Crime Prevention Effort, is a coalition of community organizations, law enforcement agencies and local government entities that work together to identify new ways to help stop or reduce juvenile delinquency.

In the five years that the program has been running in Vineland, the county has seen a nearly 30 percent decrease in juvenile crime and arrests. According to the senior project coordinator for the Rand Institute of Public Affairs at Rutgers, the coalition has been directly responsible for this reduction. According to the coordinator, the program relies on multiple perspectives to help prevent juvenile delinquency, arguing that the problem cannot be resolved through law enforcement alone.

Despite the fact that most juveniles are subject to the juvenile law system rather than the adult court system, juveniles convicted of crimes face serious, long-term consequences. From underage drinking to violent crime, minors who cross the line into illegal behavior is usually facing a major ordeal that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Source: NJ.com, "Effort to reduce juvenile delinquency in Vineland, Millville and Bridgeton," Spencer Kent, Nov. 12, 2013

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