Juvenile crime down this summer but still work to do - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Juvenile crime down this summer but still work to do

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

The Davidson County juvenile court has processed hundreds of criminal cases, since school let out in May, ranging from misdemeanors to serious offenses, but the numbers for teen crime are actually down.

"Statistically, in the past, there has been a spike in the summers of mischief type crimes," said Davidson Juvenile Court Magistrate Melinda Rigsby.

Rigsby has been prosecuting juvenile offenders in Metro Nashville for nearly 20 years.

Despite recent high profile crimes like Wednesday's home invasion and chase in north Nashville allegedly involving at least one teen, the magistrate says she's seen fewer cases come into her courtroom.

"We are down in a lot of areas. The crime of vandalism, the burglaries, they are down a little from last year," Rigsby said.

She credits the juvenile court's revised docket system and probation program, which Rigsby says has led to a spike in curfew and possession cases.

"Those room searches have proven invaluable in finding contraband. There's been drugs, weapons removed. Hopefully the streets are safer," she said.

The juvenile justice center handles about 7,000 delinquency cases every year, and roughly 1,500 of those are during the summer months. It includes everything from petty crimes like trespassing and vandalism to rape and murder.

"I'm surprised there's not more of this kind of violence," said the Rev. Enoch Fuzz, with Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church.

Enoch was part of a coalition of community leaders that met with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder this week, to address juvenile crime among other issues.

"We're failing with education. We're failing with activities. It used to be in the summer, children had things to do," Fuzz said. "We've got to get them involved."

For that, he says, it's going to take support from the whole community.

At any given time there are about 25 to 30 juveniles housed at the detention center downtown, and right now there are about 400 juveniles on probation in Davidson County.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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