9 Investigates: Tracking teenage criminals in schools

by: Tina Terry Updated:

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Story highlights:

  • Number of children wearing electronic monitors in N.C. has skyrocketed in the last three years
  • In 2014, 807 children between the ages of 6 and 15 were assigned to electronic monitors
  • Electronic monitoring serves as a 'second chance' for most offenders, who otherwise may have been jailed

Electronic monitors often help police track accused criminals, but state statistics show that the number of children wearing them has skyrocketed in just three years. What's worse, police say some of them continue committing serious crimes even though they're being watched.
 
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Lt. Lisa Carricker told Channel 9 that electronic monitors, or EMs, are sometimes a condition of release from jail for teens over 16 years old. The North Carolina Division of Juvenile Justice says they're also often assigned as a term of juvenile probation. During the wait, Carricker said many teens attend regular classes.

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"When we have crimes at our schools, it's frightening to see the number of kids that are there that are on EM," Carricker said.
 
She said some of those teens can have a negative impact on their peers.

"When you have a kid who had brushes with the law and continues to have a mentality that that's OK, and now they're in school with kids three, four, five years younger, they can have an influence on what those kids do," Carricker said.


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Number of Juveniles Entering Electronic Monitoring

Year     Mecklenburg    Statewide    Total
2012            95                          361                456
2013           194                         774                968
2014           203                        807              1,010

Total          492                       1,942             2,434


The state’s Division of Juvenile Justice said that in 2014, 807 children between the ages of 6 and 15 were assigned to electronic monitors. That's up 123 percent in three years.
 
In the past three fiscal years, just 3 percent of young suspects were charged with new offenses while on the monitors. Carricker told Channel 9 that her officers have seen a real problem with those who re-offend.
 
"We have some kids that aren't quite that easily influenced away from a path of crime, even with electronic monitoring," she said.

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One example is the case of Trevon Short. Police said that at 16 years old, the former West Mecklenburg High School student committed two first-degree burglaries at the same house.
 
"A first-degree burglary, it's really scary for us because that's when someone goes into the person's house at night when they are home. This kid went into the house, broke into it the first time and then broke in a second time when he was on electronic monitoring," Carricker said.
 
Channel 9 spoke to the victim of that crime. He didn't want to reveal his identity but said he woke up with Short standing next to his bed.
 
"My wife, she let out this horrible scream. It was a sound I never heard before." he said. "I chased this guy through my house."
 
Officers said the monitor led to Short's arrest and conviction.
 
Last year, Daquan Alexander was assigned to wear an electronic monitor, the result of several bad decisions.
 
"I was with my friends over in this neighborhood. They wanted to rob somebody, so we robbed somebody," Alexander told Channel 9.

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The robbery landed him in jail. He entered a program designed to give young offenders a second chance, and had to wear an electronic monitor. He successfully finished the program and wasn't accused of any other crimes.
 
He's glad he received an EM instead of jail. His charges were eventually dismissed, and he told Channel 9 that he's now headed in a different direction.
 
"(I’m going to) finish school, go to college, be a mechanic and stay on the right path," Alexander said.
 
The Division of Juvenile Justice said the offenses most frequently related to electronic monitoring include breaking and entering, robbery with a dangerous weapon and common law robbery.

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