CRIME: Make youth penalties harsh

Vicious teenagers have been in the news from both Duncan, Okla., and Spokane, Wash.

In Oklahoma, three boys, ages 15, 16 and 17, allegedly shot an Australian college student to death “for fun.”

In Spokane, two 16-year-old boys are charged with beating an 88-year-old World War II veteran to death during a robbery.

Both situations are troubling, to say the least. But information from Spokane police makes that case even more disturbing than it was at first glance.

Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub said both the suspects in that murder have criminal records – for assault.

How on earth is it that two 16-year-old boys, apparently guilty of assault, were roaming the streets of Spokane in the first place? Why were they not in custody?

Juveniles should not be treated the same as adult criminals, of course. But those guilty of violent crimes cannot merely be slapped on the wrists and released.