When I started doing time in 1985, I was not a model prisoner. I was young and not particularly respectful of authority. I had a buddy, Pat, who worked with me in the kitchen. Pat was not usually interested in doing anything against the rules, but we had other things in common and managed to develop a friendship. Both of us had life sentences and were looking to do a lot of time.
I was in my car recently listening to news radio when I heard that one of our deputies was killed trying to apprehend an armed robbery suspect. I was shocked and pained — I knew the deputy. What followed magnified my pain. It quickly morphed to anger — the suspect was Jonathon Bun, a 17 year old with juvenile court history in my county. In this business we must ask ourselves: “Could we have done anything different to prevent this tragedy?” I understand Mr. Bun is innocent until proven guilty, but solely for the purpose of self-assessment, there is much we can learn from Mr. Bun and his journey through the juvenile justice system that may improve the way we do business — that could reduce the number of victims-and maybe save lives. We know from the research that 8 percent of all kids arrested for the first time are serious high-risk offenders. We call them the “8 Percent Problem.” This small percentage of juveniles are arrested repeatedly (a minimum of four times within a 3-year period) and are responsible for about 55 percent of repeat cases. In other words, most of the serious juvenile crimes are committed by a handful of kids in our communities. If we can target that 8 percent, we can significantly reduce serious juvenile crime. We call that the “8 Percent Solution.”
We have also learned from the research that this “8 Percent Problem” population possesses identifiable characteristics.