A day before a special town hall meeting on youth violence, a juvenile court judge is pitching a new plan that would get tougher on parents.
Marilyn Moores, a Marion County juvenile court judge, said the deadly crime spree involving two teenagers last week, is beginning to lead to a public groundswell against youth violence.
“Between that and the problems that we’ve had downtown, I think people are concerned about what’s going on with kids,” said Judge Moores.
Moores said solutions to youth violence downtown often involve increased public presence of police officers and community leaders, but she said it’s not a long-term fix.
“Policing and government response to issues can’t be sustained,” Moores said. “It shouldn’t be sustained. It’s not fair to the taxpayer. What needs to be sustained is parenting.”
Moores said she sees that failure of family firsthand inside her courtroom.
“I see parents who sometimes can’t even be bothered to come to court with their kids,” Judge Moores said.
But even though she sees it, she said the biggest problem is that she can’t do much about it.
“We have plenty of ways of holding that child accountable, but we’re limited in what we can do with parents,” Moores said.
Though juvenile judges can’t do too much to punish parents currently, Moores believes that could be changed and could also be effective. She said one simple way to hold parents accountable would be to publicly release parent names of juveniles who are repeat offenders.
Judge Moores also believes parents of repeat offenders should be considered for fines and even criminal charges in certain circumstances.
“I think up to, and including jail in some extreme cases, might be appropriate,” Moores said.
In her opinion, that added accountability could be a sustainable solution. But even though she would like to enforce stiffer penalties for parents, she’s not the one who can make it happen.
“It would be the legislature and there are some bright folks over there who I know care about these issues,” Moores said. “Hopefully (they) are looking at them.”
A special town hall on youth violence will take place on Tuesday from 6-8 p.m. at the Eastern Star Church in Indianapolis.