Judge sees common trend among young offenders in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Judge Donald Cureton, a U.S. District Court judge who presides over many juvenile cases in Mecklenburg County, said he is seeing more teenagers in court for more serious crimes and the person who can make the biggest difference in their life sometimes isn't around.

Cureton is the youngest judge on the bench in Mecklenburg County.

He said he had good role models to help him get where he is now, and such role models are missing from the lives of the children he sees in court.

"Based on my experiences, I'm trying to impart that to others." Cureton said.

Cureton said the number of teens coming into his courtroom recently for serious crimes is disturbing.

"We are seeing serious felonies we may have not seen in previous years consistently,” he said.

Court records showed the number of juvenile cases in Mecklenburg County have dropped from over 1,200 in 2014 to a little more than 1,000 in 2016.

But so far in 2017, Channel 9 has reported on many high-profile crimes involving teens.

The most common trend among the teens that Cureton sees is their father is often separated from their lives.

"Fathers may be present in their lives, but they may be in and out, or they may be present and they're dealing with their own issues,” Cureton said.

Cureton, said he and the 26th Judicial District and Child Support Enforcement, are doing everything they can to get fathers involved.

They held an event Friday night at which fathers and their children could bond, at the Park Road Baptist Church. Cureton said they’re here to help families by resolving their cases.

“We really do want to help resolve them, so that people can have very productive and positive lives,” Cureton said.

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