Atlanta Councilwoman Hit By Crime Has New Ideas About Teen Offenders

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Now that she's a crime victim, Atlanta City Councilmember Cleta Winslow has a lot to say about the four teenage boys arrested for breaking into her home  while she was at a crime prevention meeting Saturday.

"What's happened is that the pendulum has swung in the wrong direction," Winslow said. "One of the teen's parents said their child was at home all night. But, he wasn't. Some of the problems start at home."

The teens are all 14 and 15 years old. They were arrested in a stolen car with property from Winslow's home, including her plasma TV, personal ID and other things. All four boys have been charged with auto theft and burglary. Three of them have known gang affliations, according to investigators.

Winslow told us she noticed a strange car parked on her street when she left for her meeting at 5:30 Saturday morning.  When she discovered her home had been hit, she felt violated. Now she tells us she wants to look more extensively at the juvenile court system, talk to judges and find help for kids who keep getting into trouble.

"I think that there's an opportunity at [age] 13, 14 and 15 for kids to learn that there are consequences for their actions," she said. She went on to say that kids who end up in juvenile court or detention often become prey for gangs and other bad influences.

To combat the problem, Winslow suggests juvenile courts get families more involved and provide extensive follow-up and counseling for kids who commit crimes. She also feels that kids who are released back into the community should do restitution to keep them busy and out of trouble.

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