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Waukesha stabbing case puts new focus on juveniles being charged as adults

WAUKESHA, WI (WTAQ) - The stabbing of a 12-year-old Waukesha girl has put a new focus on a state law that requires adult charges for murder and attempted murder suspects as young as 10.

Wisconsin is among 29 states that require adult charges for children accused of committing the most serious crimes. Many of those laws were passed in the 1980's and '90's, amid concern that America would fall prey to youngsters from broken homes who'd show no remorse for killing.  

Some juvenile crime experts say offenders this young do not pose long term threats to society. But a former legislator who wrote the Wisconsin law still stands by it.  

It's tougher than most states, because it allows adult charges as young as ten instead of the general norm of 13.  

In the Waukesha case, a pair of 12-year-old girls are accused of stabbing a friend 19 times to curry favor with a fictional character from a Web site with horror stories.  

Former Assembly Republican Bonnie Ladwig of Racine County still believes the law is proper. She tells the AP she has no sympathy for the girls who are now charged. Ladwig said it was obvious that the stabbings were no accident, amid reports that they had planned it for months.  

Emily Keller of the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia she generally opposes the laws on adult charges for young children. But she tells the AP that judges would probably send the most heinous juvenile cases to adult courts anyway.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)