W.Va. residents worried about youthful criminals

July 25, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Nan Furioso said she lost her sense of security after a teenage burglar allegedly entered her home.

"Just as with rape, your life can never be put back together again," Furioso said.

Now she and other victims of the burglary spree have formed a citizens committee to look at the juvenile justice system in the state to see whether laws need to be changed to protect residents.

The group met with the Jefferson County Commissioners on Thursday, the day after two teens were charged with the burglaries. One of the boys was charged with 10 burglaries. The other was charged with four.


"I'm just glad he's behind bars," said Barbara Ramey, a member of the citizens group.

One of the boys has been suspected of committing crimes for years and local law enforcement officials have said they could do nothing with him because he was under 18 years old.

One man at the meeting, Reese Clabaugh, said he tried to discipline the boy a few times in the past and the boy tried to have him charged with child abuse.

"He's terrorized a whole community," Clabaugh said.

Jefferson County Commissioner R. Gregory Lance said he believes the juvenile problems need to be examined.

"You can't even discipline them or look what will happen to you," Lance said.

Lance has been charged with domestic battery in an incident involving his 13-year-old son. The boy allegedly was grabbing around the collar at a bowling alley.

Lance has said he was attempting to discipline his son, who had begun to curse at him and then attempted to run out into the street from the parking lot.

"I don't think there's any question the pendulum has swung too far. Most juveniles realize they are at very little risk," Lance said at Thursday's meeting.

County Commissioner James Ruland suggested the group attend the Community and Police Partnership meetings to encourage others to join their group.

She said the group will look at whether more laws are needed or if existing laws regarding juveniles need to be better enforced.

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