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Seattle prosecutor tries new approach to juvenile justice

Criminal justice is a tough subject in many cities in the United States. Many different viewpoints paint a different picture for how to use the law to keep society fair across ages, genders, races and other aspects of individuals.

Juvenile courts, who work on nonadult offenders in Washington who have generally committed serious crimes, often have a double function. Courts aim to punish offenders properly while also attempting to save young criminals from a life of recidivism and a lower place in society.

The prosecutor of King County, home to Seattle, has been developing a new approach to certain juvenile crimes after an early career frustrated him with the cycle of repeat criminal offenses. He advocated a gentler approach that reintegrates young offenders into the communities they come from and any people or groups they hurt with their crimes.

The approach involves "peacemaking circles," a roundtable meeting of people affected by a crime as well as counselors, educators and the families of offenders and victims alike. A juvenile court judge presides over the proceedings, which can only apply to crimes below the severity of deadly assaults and other serious felonies.

Youths charged with serious crimes in Washington always deserve the support of their communities and the possibility of reduced charges for the sake of offenders and victims alike. Even if peacemaking circles do not apply, there may be innovative ways to work inside juvenile justice.

An attorney can help minors charged with a crime and their families defend against criminal charges and reduce or avoid jail time. Legal representation may be the best move that an embattled family can make.

Source: The Seattle Times, "King County sticks with peace circles for juvenile crime, even after a murder charge," Claudia Rowe, accessed May 10, 2018

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