LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Officials say the number of children committed to the Youth Services Division has increased two years in a row because some judges jail youths who commit misdemeanors or status offenses.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1SwILD5 ) reports that an investigation by the newspaper in December found that hundreds of runaways and troublemakers end up in the same juvenile-offender lockups as youths who have raped, robbed or murdered.

Division Director Marcus Devine told lawmakers Monday that the juveniles in the system should only include felony offenders who have committed violent acts.

He says committing minors with status offenses or misdemeanors isn't rational because the division spends about $68,000 per child each year. The division's annual report says about half of the 526 juveniles committed in fiscal year 2015 fall under those offenses.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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