Cleveland detectives want help with repeat juvenile offenders, believe the county can do more

Detectives want greater access to juvenile records
Posted at 10:12 PM, Aug 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-10 12:03:10-04

Some Cleveland detectives believe the Cuyahoga County juvenile system can do more to help them with repeat juvenile offenders, especially when it comes to juveniles who commit non-violent crimes.

Cleveland Detective Sergeant Tom Shoulders told the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court needs to institute tougher sentencing and intake standards.

Shoulders pointed to a case in which two juveniles were arrested in connection with a series of car thefts at used car lots on Cleveland's west side, but he said the juveniles were not taken into the system.

"These are the kids that we have been looking for, the DH would not take them, and these kids have extensive histories with the DH," explained Shoulders.

"The system is totally broken.  If there is no compatibility between their computer systems and our computer systems, then what's the sense of having the technology?"

Shoulders said the Cuyahoga County court computer system isn't compatible with the computer system used by Cleveland Police.

Shoulders explained Cleveland detectives don't have good access to juvenile records and mug shots, which are critical in determining if a juvenile may be related to other crimes.

Shoulders said the juvenile court, the Cleveland schools, and Cleveland police need to sit down and figure out ways to improve the system, so the number of repeat juvenile offender can be reduced.

Cuyahoga County Director of Probation Services Van Ward agreed all sides should meet in the search for improvements.

Ward said repeat juvenile offenders are assessed on a case-by-case basis, using a state wide system of evaluation.

"It's actually a statewide assessment tool, it was developed by the University of Cincinnati," said Ward.  "All juvenile courts throughout the state of Ohio are utilizing this particular tool."

"I understand the detectives frustrations, and we're more than willing to work with them."

Ward showed juvenile intake numbers over the past three years, which indicate the number of juveniles taken into the system has dropped by more than 25% since 2013.

However Shoulders believes those shrinking numbers are another indication juvenile intake and sentencing standards need improvement. 

"You know why it's down is because they are not accepting them, because that's what they're doing,' said Shoulders. "That's why they're down, because they're not accepting them."