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City of Hampton adopts new program to help juvenile offenders

HAMPTON, Va. - The City of Hampton has adopted a new program with the hopes of making important information on juvenile offenders easier to share.

State laws prohibited sharing information about juvenile offenders between agencies. Now, the Serious Habitual Offender Comprehensive Action Program (SHOCAP) will fix that.

SHOCAP will help agencies like the police department, schools and community groups work together to identify habitual offenders of serious crimes to keep the community safe.

It will also identify ways to keep certain juveniles from future run-ins with the law.

“We’re targeting those juveniles who some would say aren’t worth helping or we can’t provide them help,” said Hampton Police Lt. Jason Price.

It’s called the Serious Habitual Offender Comprehensive Action Program (SHOCAP) - a long name for a program with a simple goal.

“Let’s talk about the real problem here and why this is really needed and that is because of different laws on a state and federal level the police department can’t just share information with the Hampton City Schools. The Hampton City Schools can’t just share information with us,” Price said.

SHOCAP removes those restrictions, focusing on serious juvenile offenders. These aren’t small crimes, we are talking juveniles convicted of murder, felony sexual assault and malicious wounding.

“Think of it like this: Maybe when they were 12 they got arrested for breaking into a car, and then as they went to middle school they started getting into fights. You can see the behavior change with the juvenile as they start to get older. Now they’ve got a gun and they are a victim of maiming because they’ve been shot,” Price said.

Price said the program would help the agencies to identify juvenile early on. For example, noticing the juvenile after the first arrest for a car break-in.

“Well now we could have prevented them from being a victim of maiming several years later,” he said.

The program also plays a preventative role. For example, the agencies can share information with families with known gang members to protect younger siblings from following that path.

“If we prevent one juvenile from being a victim of homicide or one elementary school sibling from getting involved in criminal activity, then it’s a success,” Price said.

Price said the next step is forming the committee and pinpointing the exact needs of the city.