Burleson Star (Burleson, Tex.), Vol. 26, No. 75, Ed. 1 Thursday, April 25, 1991 Page: 3 of 18
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Burleson Star. Thursday. April 25.1991-3
Everyone is a victim, thanks to arsonists
Everyone in the city of Burleson and the school district became a victim
last Sunday when two juveniles allegedly decided to break into the junior high
on the morning following prom, play around fora few hours, made on lockers
with racial and profane graffiti, steal some drums and a VCR, and then set
fire to the social studies room. Their pre-dawn prank is costing the school
almost $2 million in damage, and the price may go up even higher than that
after it's all over. *
The police are banned from releasing the names of juveniles so the media
can not print the names of the two who were taken into custody Monday for
the burglary and arson of the school. That doesn't mean that the students'
identities are a secret Generally the juveniles involved tend to brag and then
it spreads like wildfire.
But the constitution protects juveniles because they can't be held repon-
sible for their actions. They may not understand "right from wrong” or the
"gravity of their actions." After all, they are only kids.
I think most people would go along with cutting kids some slack when
it comes to shoplifting, egging someone's car, or beating up your little brother.
But not when it comes to felony crimes, especially ones that create as much
damage as the burglary and arson did.
It's hard to fathom that a teenager (the juvenile boys are Band 15-years-
old) does not understand that breaking into a locked building in the wee hours
of the morning, taking property, and setting fire to books and papers is not
only wrong but is going to cause serious damage. Especially since the schools
are not equipped with either sprinkler systems or burglar alarms.
That fire spread to a science room, where there were plenty of flammable
materials, and on to a computer lab. Several other rooms on that wing were
damaged by smoke and water. If the juveniles had been trapped in the building
after the fire was started, would they understand the gravity of their actions?
The fire weakened the roof structure surrounding air conditioning units.
The volunteer firefighters who were inside the building trying to put the fire
out could easily have been injured or killed when those air conditioning
units— that probably weigh £lpse to one ton—caved in. Burleson and
Crowley firemen were there for otar four hours. These are volunteers, men
and women who give their time and sometimes lives to help others. Would the
juveniles understand the gravity of what they did if a firefighter was hurt or
killed because they were "just having fun?"
Burglary and arson are both second degree felonies punishable by two-
20 years in prison and a fine not to exceed $10,000. But, if that arson involved
bodily injury or death, the crime is a first degree felony. Three Crowley
firefighteAwere treated for smoke inhalation, which can constitute bodily
Biwriony penalties don't apply to juveniles (children under 17 years
Marine Gunnery Sgt Peter L. Ehlen-
berger, son of Walter A. Ehlenberger
of Burleson, recently reported for
duty with Headquarters and Service
Company, 3rd Marine Expeditionary
Force, Okinawa, Japan.
A 1971 graduate of Russel High
School, EastPoint, Ga., he joined the
Marine Corps in June 1971.
In Texas, juveniles cannot be housed with adults and they can't be
prosecuted for crimes (unless certified as an adult). That's why Johnson
County has the Johnson County Juvenile Detention Center. Nine other
counties contract with Johnson County for use of those facilities.
The two juveniles were not "arrested." Juvenile proceedings are civil, not
criminal. The juvenile system is designed to help the child in trouble. The
juveniles are not considered "criminals;" they are "delinquents" and are
"taken into custody" and transported to the juvenile detention center in
Cleburne. A "bond" is not set for their release. Instead the court has a
"detention hearing" in which the court decides whether the juvenile will go
home to his parents or be confined to the detention center. Juveniles are not
found "guilty" or "innocent." The court determines whether the juvenile is
"delinquent" and "in need of supervision."
If a 13-year-old and 15-year-old are out until after 7:30 in the morning,
I would think that constitutes a lack of supervision on the part of the parent
or legal guardian.
There is a wide range of punishments that the juvenile court can hand
A vote for Carroll is vote for good government
; Some ti'mp ago, we received a.
post card from the Burleson Star,
stating "It's been a pleasure to have
We moved into our new home in
early 1969. It has been a pleasure to
live in Burleson. We have, of course,
seen many changes, and more to
come. That's why it's so important for
all thecitizensof Burleson to become
involved, and most of all, to vote on
It will take able, prudent leader-
ship to overcome serious budgetary
problems facing Burleson. I'm told
there isn't any money to even trim the
limbs off the trees hanging over the
There is one member of the city
council who is insightful, conscien-
down. The lightest is for the juvenile to be released to his/her parent or
guardian. Secondly, he/she could be released to a person other than the parent
or guardian, such as a foster parent or court-designated person. A third choice
would be to release the juvenile while under supervision of Juvenile Services
of Johnson County. The juvenile authorities would check in once a day on the
juvenile. The juvenile could be put under intense supervision where they
would either go to the detention center or be supervised at home.
The court can release a juvenile under conditions, such as prohibiting the
delinquent from associating with the other delinquents who were involved in
the crime. Most juvenile crimes involve more than one child. The court can
also place a curfew on the juvenile.
The most severe alternatives in punishment involve complete removal of
the juvenile from the home to a foster home or commitment to the Texas
Youth Commission, a state-regulated facility. If the juvenile is 15 years or
older at the time of the crime, the juvenile can be certified to stand trial as an
adult. However, in Johnson County that procedure has only been used about
four times in the last four years, all involving cases of murder.
The certification proceedings are comprehensive. A juvenile's socioeco-
nomic and gjsyc&ological background is investigated as well as his school
records. In order to be certified as an adult, the state has to prove that if the case
went to a grand jury that there would be enough evidence to convince the
panel members to indict the juvenile. The state also has to prove that the
j uvenile has a violent tendency or stands a probability of repeating his actions.
I'm not advocating confining the juveniles in prison and throwing away
the key but I would think that this case deserves more than just being released
to a parent or guardian. Restitution would be nice too.
The juveniles not only damaged the school, but they also made it tough
for the school district to get insurance. Two fires in less than four months is
not something insurance companies like to take on. (There was a pre-dawn
fire at the high school on Jan. 15 that destroyed a home economics room and
damaged the hallway.)It's probably also time to install burglar alarms in all
the schools. That’s going to cost a pretty penny too. Arson is expensive. It
costs money to bring the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in to help
in the investigation, but it's necessary. And what about the hours that school
personnel, parents, and volunteers spent cleaning up after the fire?
Kids who commit crimes like this give a bad name to all of the good kids
that Burleson has. And Burleson has plenty of good, honest, teenagers who
care about the community and their school. They were probably hurt the most
by the two fires. More so than the taxpayer's wallet will ever be. But, everyone
is the victim, thanks to some juveniles who "just wanted to have fun."
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tious, and fair minded. His name ts
Doii Carroll, Place. 3. A vote for Mr.
Carroll is a, wte for good govern-
Burleson State Banks
Register for Prizes!! ^
8imm Hutsoa-TIco President
JuiIm Moody Editor A Publisher
Cathy Smith Advertising Dir.
Sally EUevteon------------New* Editor
Tbe Burleson Star is an independent newspaper
published two tunes a week on Monday and Tnurs-
day in the interest of Burleson and adjacent areas
by Burleson Publishing Company, Inc.. 319 N.
Burleson Blvd., Burleson, Texas 76028. Any erro-
neous reflection on any individual or Ann will be
corrected if brought to the attention of the editor.
Addreea all correspondence to the Editor, Burle-
son Star, P.O. Drawer 909, Burleeon, Texas 76028.
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POSTMASTER; Send address changes to Burle-
son Star. P.O. Drawer909, BurleaonjTexas 7502ST
COPYRIGHT 1991 BURLESON STAR
i 1 i
,1 11 UOUu.J
Come join us on this happy 20th Anniversary!
We’re grateful to you, our growing numbers of customers, who have
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Registration limited to those 18 years or more, one per customer, no employees or their
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Moody, James. Burleson Star (Burleson, Tex.), Vol. 26, No. 75, Ed. 1 Thursday, April 25, 1991, newspaper, April 25, 1991; Burleson, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth762538/m1/3/: accessed December 14, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Burleson Public Library.