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Judging teenage crime

They Broke the Law: You be the Judge. True cases of teenage crime By Thomas A Jacobs Free Spirit Publishing pound;9.95

If you apply to become a magistrate, at some point you may be given written examples of crimes - a shoplifting, perhaps, or a drink-driving episode - upon which you have to pronounce. This book treads similar ground, though the cases are all, in US terms, juvenile. The stories are told, options set out, discussion encouraged, then we're told what actually happened. There's Erica, for example, who has a devastated family life and is raped and left pregnant at 13. She's charged with assault, then commits a drug offence while waiting to be sentenced. Any young person's or family court in any western country will have met Erica. The dilemma is familiar too: "Even though personal and family problems are no excuse for breaking the law, they also cannotnbsp;be ignored."

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