Guam bill aims to prevent cycle of crime in youth


HAGATNA, Guam — Lawmakers on Guam will be voting this week on a legislation aiming to reduce juvenile delinquency with counseling and mediation.

The bill aims to prevent youth from getting caught in a cycle of crime, said Speaker Judith Won Pat who leads the sole chamber in Guam’s unicameral legislature.

Justice is not simply punishment, Won Pat said in her weekly address, the Pacific Daily News reported. Justice must be holistic and effective, especially when dealing with juveniles, she said.

It’s not a new approach for Guam, Won Pat said.

“Our Chamoru ancestors resolved conflicts and decided punishment within the family. In fact, a deep reverence for one’s family often prevented people from committing crime,” she said.

Chief Justice Robert Torres last week said in his State of the Judiciary address that the courts present Guam “with arguably the greatest opportunity to really change lives and reverse the increasing crime rate in our island home.”

The chief justice said locking up juvenile offenders likely doesn’t decrease criminality, but rather increases it.

Torres promoted Guam’s already successful approaches of mental health and substance abuse counseling as well as anger management and family counseling.