LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- The Little Rock city council is looking into truancy and if there is correlation to crime. Tuesday, the city board passed a resolution to petition to the State Supreme Court. (http://on.kthv.com/ym7FV8)
The city wants to expand the district court's jurisdiction allowing it to hear truancy cases.
Right now, it goes to a circuit court, which has a higher work load. It is still up in the air if truancy is behind the city's crime
Under Little Rock's daytime curfew laws, police officers can pick up juveniles skipping school. Lieutenant Terry Hastings says there is some connection to truancy and juvenile crimes.
"Young people who are not in school many times get into mischief and commit crimes and many of our daytime burglaries are committed by juveniles," says Lt. Hastings.
In 1996, Little Rock had 804 juveniles charged with crimes. In 2011, there were 1,438 juveniles. That's a record number. It looks like a 78 percent increase, but in some years, the numbers dipped. It hit a low in 2002 of 484 juveniles.
Little Rock homicide numbers also fluctuate. In 1996, there were 76 homicides. In 2011, 35 homicides.
"You see crime comes in waves, you have an up rise and then a downfall," says Lt. Hastings.
Members of Stop the Violence urged city leaders Tuesday to do more. District court judge Mark Leverett tells THV he wouldn't mind taking truancy cases off the hands of the busy circuit court.
He says "I believe a truant child is a child that is not learning. There are many statistics that show a strong correlation between prison and lower education."
But does the Little Rock School District believe truancy numbers are linked to city crime?
"I would like to see the data, until we see hard data, we can't really say,"> says Tiffany Hoffman.
Tiffany Hoffman is the Little Rock School District's communications director and says the district just started tracking truancy numbers in August after a state law passed requiring them to.
"One thing we have done this year is look at school personnel and track truancies and trying to nip it in the bud early," says Hoffman.
And she says just because students miss school, doesn't mean they're out breaking the law.
"You know it may be an illness in the family that causes the student to miss a lot of days. It may be having to go to work and support family in these kinds of economies,"
The School District has a community truancy board that meets each month. It includes social workers, community members, and police officers. The next meeting is Thursday, Jan.19 at 11:30 a.m.
According to Little Rock police, most of the homicides last year, were not committed by juveniles. As far as that truancy resolution, putting cases in the hands of district judges, Leverett says he does not know the timeline of when the State Supreme Court will make a decision.