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      Violent juvenile crimes on the rise in Hidalgo County

      The docket is growing at the 449th district court and the cases are becoming more violent.

      Judge Jessie Contreras said now is the time to invest in programs for teen offenders to combat the growing problem.

      Why do we have to care about these kids? he asked. Because that problem is going to become an adult.

      The most recent data shows aggravated assault referrals grew from 166 to 207 from 2011 to 2012.

      There was also a rise in misdemeanor assault cases and over the court saw a jump in referrals from 1,983 to 2,315.

      The data hasn TMt been tabulated for 2013 but Contreras is certain the referrals will well exceed the previous year.

      I think the county is going to wake up and realize we need to do more, he said.

      Absent parents and high drop-out rates contribute to the problem.

      Contreras said the county should also assign more law enforcement to juvenile crimes.

      He is concerned with the lack of programs available for juvenile who commit petty crimes like theft which are gateways to the much harder crimes.

      It TMs like a domino effect, he said. It TMs going to end up hurting your friend or your cousin if we don TMt take care of the kids now.

      Contreras aims to treat each juvenile case with attention and concern giving a second chance when warranted.

      He acknowledges many will end up life-time offenders.

      "I don't think we can save 100 percent of these kids, there is no way, I know that, he said. But I'm going to fight like I am getting all 100 percent