International organizations and some Georgian social welfare workers are voicing concern over the Georgian government's efforts to curb juvenile crime. Critics charge that the government is disregarding international norms by enforcing a zero-tolerance policy that imprisons children. The government counters that its tactics are striving to prompt youngsters to take responsibility for their actions.
The number of Georgian children prosecuted for juvenile offenses has increased by almost 50 percent since 2005 mostly for petty theft, according to the recently released United Nations Children's Fund's 2007 Juvenile Justice Assessment. In 2006, over 37 percent of convicted juveniles ended up in prison, up from nearly 15 percent in 2000, the report states. While the rise in juvenile prosecutions is significant, it mirrors a similar increase in adult criminal prosecutions. The survey, however, only reflects data for arrests and convictions.
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Paul Rimple is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi.