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Young felons need help

LOCAL judges and child protection officials yesterday called at a symposium for the establishment of supervisory centers for non-local criminals under 18 when they are on probation or released from prison, as most of the young criminals tried by local courts last year were not locals.

Non-local juvenile criminals would join community work, receive moral education and get life help from social workers in such centers.

The number of juvenile criminals in the city last year has risen by 217 percent compared to a decade ago, according to the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court. About 83 percent were not locals.

The city has never disclosed the exact number of minor criminals.

In addition to the usual crimes of larceny and robbery, juveniles have been found to be engaged in drug-related crimes and fraud, which used to be committed by adults only, judges said.

"The phenomenon has worried us because it indicates some juveniles have lost a basic morality," said Huang Xiangqing, deputy director of the court.

Judges are more concerned about how to help juveniles get their lives back on track.

"It is surely better to let minor criminals accept community correction and education under supervision of a certain social organization than throw them into prison," said Zhu Jiuwei, director of the city's community correction office.

But in practice, many non-local juvenile criminals don't have a stable residence and are neglected by their guardians, so they are sent to prison.


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