Juvenile Justice

Boy, 9, is arrested for failure to appear on gum-stealing charge; prosecutor regrets 'mistake'

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An Idaho prosecutor is expressing regret after his office issued an arrest warrant for a 9-year-old boy who twice failed to appear in court on a charge of stealing a pack of gum.

Kootenai County Prosecuting Attorney Barry McHugh issued a statement saying his office’s decision to issue an arrest warrant was “a mistake under the circumstances,” report KHQ.com, USA Today and the Coeur D’Alene Press. The boy was placed in the Juvenile Detention Center and released after a court hearing on Friday.

Post Falls Chief of Police Scott Haug told KHQ.com last week that he was surprised when the warrant landed on his desk. In an interview with the Coeur D’Alene Press, Haug said the child was not searched or handcuffed.

“In watching the video,” Haug told the Coeur D’Alene Press, “our officers did the best they could under difficult circumstances. He was not treated like an adult, and simply given a ride to the Juvenile Detention Center. No officer wants to do this. It’s unfortunate that it got to this point.”

McHugh said his office issued the arrest warrant after unsuccessful efforts to enroll the child and the child’s parent in a diversion program, followed by missed court dates. A better option, he said, was to seek a court-ordered child protection investigation.

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