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VICENZA, Italy — If you think getting grounded by your parents is bad, you may want to think twice before spray-painting your next wall in northern Italy.

The 22nd Area Support Group has set up U.S. Army Europe’s first Juvenile Review Board to tackle just about any infraction committed by a juvenile in Vicenza or Camp Darby. Wayward youth will have to appear before a board of at least 12, comprised of people from specialized organizations across the community. One of the youth’s parents will also have to appear.

Tracy Galindo, civilian misconduct administrator for the ASG, said the board — part of the Juvenile Crime Prevention Program — isn’t designed to simply mete out tough punishments.

“I’m not going to say tougher,” he said. “It’s more targeted to the individual or the subject at hand.”

If explaining yourself before 12 people sounds intimidating, it’s supposed to be. But, Galindo, said getting a variety of professionals together to talk about each case should result in actions that will better serve the offenders.

For instance, a psychologist or family counselor might be able to offer insights that a law enforcement officer doesn’t have. So instead of just a punishment, some kind of counseling or other help might be recommended.

At the same time, base officials will be looking for local patterns and might make changes as a result — in effect, learning from the process as well.

Galindo said the implementation of the program doesn’t mean that youths are on a crime rampage in Vicenza or Livorno. He said serious crimes are rare and the situation is probably better than in some other Army communities in Europe.

“Nothing statistically would tell us we have a problem,” he said.

The board has heard five cases since the program began earlier this month.

A typical crime might involve shoplifting from the post exchange. For such an action, the board might recommend the youth hand out crime-prevention leaflets in front of the exchange as part of the punishment. Other punishments might include community service or a letter from the offender published in the base newspaper. Or the board might not hand out a punishment at all, Galindo said.

Juveniles who commit serious offenses or those with continued violations might be sent back to the States. Galindo said cases should be handled within two weeks of the infraction.

Incidents at school during class hours will still be handled by the Department of Defense Dependents Schools system, though a DODDS representative will likely sit on the board.

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Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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