Harsh Realities for Virginia’s Youth

An art exhibit at Art180 Reality recently shed a light on the effects of juvenile delinquency convictions. The gallery featured exhibits done by children at the Juvenile Detention Center in Richmond. One former prisoner discussed how he was incarcerated at the age of 14 for a robbery where he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was not released until he was 21 years old. The purpose of the exhibit was to call for an end to youth prisons in Virginia.

Juvenile Delinquency Convictions

Juveniles who are convicted of crimes and required to serve a prison sentence are sent to prisons that are much like adult prisons. However, those that are incarcerated and sent to juvenile prisons can be as young as eleven. Many of these convictions started with an issue in school. Virginia schools are the leaders in referring children to police officers. This exemplifies the school to prison pipeline where getting in trouble in school can lead to future prison sentences. This is extremely dangerous for children who are growing and maturing. Almost 75% of these children end back in jail within three years of their first incarceration, which calls into question the effectiveness of these prisons. Parents should take all necessary precautions, including hiring a criminal defense attorney, to try to prevent their child from going to prison.

Grand Larceny and Juveniles

The majority of juveniles that are incarcerated have been charged with grand larceny. In Virginia, grand larceny is committed by a person who steals money or property that has a value of $200 dollars or more or steals a firearm regardless of the price. This charge can result in a prison sentence of no less than one year and no more than 20 years if the person is a first-time offender. The person could also be forced to pay up to $2,500. When a child is involved, this responsibility will fall to the parent, since an eleven year old cannot legally hold a job.  Virginia’s threshold for grand larceny is one of the lowest in the country.

Potential Alternatives

Those who advocate for closing juvenile detention centers call for programs that would focus on rehabilitating children, not punishing them. These programs would be family and community based rather than institutionalized. The Virginia Department of Education is currently working with schools on new strategies for addressing discipline issues that do not involve getting the police involved for things that can be handled in the school. Police departments in Virginia are also working on their approach to working with these youths.

Is Your Child Facing Juvenile Delinquency Charges?

If your child has been charged with a criminal offense you should contact an experienced attorney who will keep his or her future in mind when planning a defense. Jad Sarsour Criminal Defense Attorney has worked on numerous juvenile cases and is prepared to listen to your child’s side of the story. Contact our firm today at 703-385-6868 to learn about the options that are available for your child.