Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Teen gang member won't face jail time

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BATON ROUGE- A judge decided that a 15-year old gang member could have a second chance to straighten out his life, instead of what could've been a 3 year juvenile detention sentence.

The teen was one of four members of the "Get Off Boys" convicted of criminal street gang activity, along with simple robbery and accessory to robbery, after beating and robbing an 11-year old and 13-year old. The judge allowed him to join the BRAVE program last month before making a final decision on his sentencing.

"Given the nature of the crime, the fact that these victims were so young, and that this was group activity, I believe to send a positive message to the community with these type of offenders, I thought a 3 year commitment would've been appropriate," said Curtis Nelson, a prosecutor for the District Attorney's Office.

Nelson argued the teen should be remanded to state's custody because he's had multiple house arrest violations and even was seen with a gang member he was ordered to stay away from.

The judge decided his success with the BRAVE program outweighed his probation violations and wanted to give him another shot.

"That tells me that the judges and the courts take into consideration that this is not going to happen over night, that change takes time, and eventually the services we provide will elicit a change in behavior so that they can become productive citizens in the community," said Herbert "Tweety" Anny, the BRAVE program director.

The teen must satisfy various stipulations over his one year probation, including refraining from email and social networking, 100 hours of community service, and severing contact with gang members.

"I think it's going to be very difficult, he has to show a willingness to change and I didn't see that today in court," said Nelson.

If the teen violates any of the stipulations set by the judge, he'll be immediately taken to jail for at least 90 days, then the DA will recommend additional jail time.



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