Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Victim Tells of Crime in Push for New Law on Young Offenders Juvenile Records Would Open

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Victim Tells of Crime in Push for New Law on Young Offenders Juvenile Records Would Open

Article excerpt

* Two U.S. senators heard Susan Stern of Clayton tell of the time she was robbed in a St. Louis garage.

"He changed our lives forever. Shouldn't his life be changed? Punishment should be regardless of age."

With these words, Susan Stern of Clayton testified Friday before two U.S. senators in support of a federal bill that will create a national database to permit educators and law enforcement officers to look up records of juveniles in the same way that adult records are available. At St. Louis Fire Department headquarters, Stern described for Sens. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and John Ashcroft, R-Mo., how Abdul Lewis, 16, robbed her and five other women in March of last year in the Famous-Barr garage in downtown St. Louis. Stern said she and the other victims will never forget the experience. "I'll never walk the street the same way. I'll never get in an elevator the same way," she said. Lewis was certified as an adult under Missouri law and pleaded guilty this week to 13 counts of robbery or attempted robbery. He is awaiting sentencing. Missouri recently passed a law that permits more juveniles to be certified for adult punishment and gives access to juvenile records to schools, police departments and judges. Sessions and Ashcroft said the law they are backing would extend this system to states that have not already acted and would allow Missouri officials to obtain records of juveniles who move into Missouri from other states. …

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