Juveniles are committing more than their share of crimes when compared to other age groups in South Dakota. A study released by the Attorney General's office shows that juveniles accounted for roughly one-in-every four arrests made for serous crimes like assaults and drugs.
Total crime arrests in South Dakota jumped 11 percent in 2012. Juveniles accounted for more than 1,000 drug arrests, more than 800 arrests for assault and more than 150 arrests for sex crimes. But one Sioux Falls man, who spent much of his teenage years in trouble with the law, says there's still hope for those who wind up in the juvenile justice system.
Justin Basche was a regular at the Juvenile Detention Center during the 1990s.
"I was in JDC more than probably six to seven times probably before they placed me; I was a frequent flier," Basche said.
A frequent flier who encountered turbulence as a teen.
"It was mostly runaway charges and a few minor burglary charges, breaking into cars," Basche said.
Basche says he also had a meth problem in his youth.
"Back then, it was still kind of new around here and they were just kind of, ahhh," Basche said.
Admissions for serious crimes like assault are holding steady at the JDC these days; a reflection of the new approach that not every kid who breaks the law should go into lockup.
"Some children may belong in detention if they're serious offenses, but other ones that have committed less serious offenses need to be placed in some type of an alternative to detention," JDC Director Todd Cheever said.
Basche didn't turn his life around until he became a dad in his 20s.
"I just really didn't have a choice. I had to raise my kids so I didn't want my kids to go through what I went through. I just want them to see how to be a responsible and respectful adult through me so that they can show that to the world," Basche said.
Basche is now attending school at Killian and hopes to earn a degree in child psychology so he can counsel kids to avoid the hard life he led as a teenager.
Review the South Dakota 2012 Crime Report online.