Dole Seeks to Get Tough on Young Criminals

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<i> From Associated Press</i>

Just two days before President Clinton is to announce ways to reduce youth violence, Republican rival Bob Dole called for getting tough on juvenile criminals by making their records stick with them through life.

“Unless something is done soon, some of today’s newborns will become tomorrow’s super-predators--merciless criminals capable of committing the most vicious of acts for the most trivial of reasons,” Dole said Saturday in a weekly GOP radio address.

Dole pointed out that one of his last acts before resigning as Senate majority leader was to sponsor legislation that would ensure juveniles who commit violent federal crimes are prosecuted as adults.


“A violent teenager who commits an adult crime should be treated as an adult in court and should receive adult punishment,” he said. “Teenagers who rape, rob and murder should not be automatically released when they turn 18 or 20.”

Dole also called for making juvenile criminal records available to schools, courts and some employers even after an offender becomes an adult. Now, such records are expunged when a juvenile reaches majority age.

Dole said many of the rules regulating today’s juvenile-justice systems were created during more innocent times, when the worst offenses committed by teenagers were “truancy and joy riding.”

“Fortunately, many states are now changing these rules and revising their juvenile-justice systems to reflect the violent realities of our time,” Dole said.

The Clinton campaign immediately pounced on the former lawmaker’s address, saying “citizen Dole’s rhetoric does not match the record of Sen. Bob Dole.”

“Sen. Dole had a chance to ban assault weapons and make sure convicted felons were barred from purchasing handguns. When faced with promoting our national interests or promoting special interests, Sen. Dole sided with the National Rifle Assn.,” campaign spokesman Joe Lockhart said.