CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The number of kids under 18 involved in gun related crimes is on the upswing. As of Monday, the Juvenile Youth Center is housing 89 juveniles. Of that, at least 60 are there for gun related or violent crimes.
"Guns are the nuclear weapon of Juvenile Court," said Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge John Williams. "We've had an uptick in a lot of gun related events," he continued.
The fiscal year ended on June 30 and by that time 28 cases had been bounded over from the juvenile court to the adult court. During the same time period, 61 kids under 18 were sent to the Department of Youth Services (DYS), essentially a juvenile jail. That's up over the last fiscal year, which saw only 48.
"We've had an uptick in aggravated robberies. Sometimes these things are so extraordinary violent that the only place to be dealing with [them] is more of an adult correctional setting," Williams said.
Javon Colter, 14, may be charged as an adult for the murder of 39-year-old Suliman Abdul Mutakallim.
"Here's the problem with trying juveniles as adults," said Mike Allen, former police officer and prosecutor. "If they are convicted, or they plead and thrown into the adult prison system, they're not going to get rehabilitated, they're not going to come out better. They're going to come out a heck of a lot worse," he said.
Is it possible the Colter could spend the rest of his life in jail? Allen said yes, but unlikely. [If convicted] it would probably be 20,25 or 30 to life with the possibility if parole but, it depends on how they charge him. Either way he's going to be spending a lot of time in the adult system," he continued.
"The most alarming thing to me is the lack of structure for these kids. If [a] young person doesn't have a family or anyone that cares about them they seek other young people. Typically that's not something we want to see and it could be a recipe for disaster," Williams said.
Over the last week, a few groups have come out and spoke about their concerns with crime, especially among black men ages 18 to 26. On the heels of a 6-year-old being shot, there was a gathering of community leaders in Avondale. Pastor Ennis Tait, of Church of the Living God, said the community must address the issue.
"We need to focus on crime and once we address crime we should narrow it down to black on black crime," he said. "It's a reality that a majority of the culprits and the victims are African-American men."
He went on to say that we are seeing younger men influenced by the criminal element lifestyle. "We have to talk about it and put it out there. We have to encourage parents to be actively involved."