ATLANTA - Atlanta Police said a teen who was arrested for stealing a car, had just been released four days before for also stealing a vehicle.
Police also said that teenager, who is 16 years old, had been arrested 35 times since he was 14 years old.
This is just one example of what Atlanta Police leaders and the Fulton County District Attorney's Office call an overwhelming problem on the streets of Atlanta: repeat juvenile offenders allowed to walk free after committing similar crimes repeatedly.
Police said Tim Hood's BMW and another truck were stolen from the Buckhead-area BP gas station on Piedmont Road by a group of young men, who then crashed the vehicles.
Police said that arrested teen also has numerous auto thefts in his criminal record.
“My mind is completely blown. It makes me wonder, what are we not doing, when we have situations with juveniles that are habitual offenders?” said victim, Tim Hood, whose BMW is wrecked. “It really makes me wonder, what are we missing here?”
The problem behind keeping juvenile criminals off the streets, said one former judge lies in what punishments judges can legally administer to juveniles who do not commit crimes that endanger or harm other persons, despite the severity of the crime.
“The whole purpose of the legislative intent for juveniles is to rehabilitate juveniles,” said Jackie Patterson, a former Georgia judge and police officer, and now defense attorney.
“Judges have to release them in most cases, because Georgia law says... you shall not detain a juvenile in most cases. Once they get processed, they are released right back to the parent,” Patterson said.
Patterson and others in the judicial system have called for a reform of Georgia state statutes to increase penalties against juvenile repeat offenders.