Benny Boyd

Youth crime stats on the rise in county

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

Caldwell County’s Juvenile Justice System dominated conversation during a brief meeting of the Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court on Monday morning.

According to Caldwell County Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Jay Monkerud, juvenile crime referrals increased considerably in 2008, but the number of youth in the s

ystem has remained the same.

“I hate to come with bad news, but we had a record year in three areas this year,” Monkerud said. “We’re still analyzing the data to find out why this year was kind of an anomaly.”

The three records Monkerud noted were a record-high number of referrals, 254, to Caldwell County Juvenile Probation, a record number of felony referrals, 72, and an unusually high number of referrals from the Luling Police Department.

“There are several things we need to look at,” he said. “But one thing we need to understand is that one client can have more than one referral, and each referral can be about more than one offense.”

Monkerud said the increased statistics do not necessarily reflect a marked increase in juvenile crime and said his department is working with their referred clients to help them get “out of the system” and put their lives on track.

“One program we have is a program for first time and minor offenders,” he said. “We work with the parents, the kids, and the courts on helping those clients not go any deeper in the system. Sometimes, it’s not a matter of bad children, we get referrals from children that just made bad choices. We really deal with them on a case by case basis. Some are apologetic, and some just don’t care.”

Monkerud also cautioned the Court about a Sunset Commission report suggesting that the Texas Juvenile Probation System and the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) be abolished, merged and restructured. Monkerud said the idea would be a mistake and that most people in his field are against it.

However, because the Sunset Commission filed the report, the Texas Legislature has to examine the proposal. Monkerud noted that locally, his department works to keep institutional referrals to a minimum, and to monitor local children within the community, instead of placing them in TYC custody.

In brief news:

The Commissioners heard a proposition from a representative of Fuel Eco Systems regarding a fuel enhancer system. Although Precinct 4 Commissioner Joe Roland said he had purchased the suggested equipment and had limited success with it, the Court agreed to purchase four of the units and install them on Unit Road System vehicles on a test basis, before making the decision as to whether to install the equipment in the county’s entire fleet.

They heard updates on construction projects throughout the county. Projects at the Caldwell County Court Annex and Justice Precinct Three are nearing completion and should be finished by the end of the month.

The County paid bills in the amount of $175,177.29, which included a payment of $61,692 to the Caldwell County Appraisal District and nearly $49,000 for county insurance.

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