ATLANTA - From families of victims of violent juvenile offenders, to elected leaders throughout Fulton County, hundreds packed at town hall at Cascade United Methodist Church to address how to keep teenage criminals off the streets.
"They're committing very serious crimes, and they're killing people," said Jewel Wicker, the cousin of 50-year-old Anthony Brooks, who Atlanta Police said was gunned down by 16-year-old Charlie McDaniel and 15-year-old Isaac McDaniel. Police said the McDaniel brothers had been arrested thirty times previously.
"How could this happen? Why weren't they in a detention center, or some kind of treatment facility?" said Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, whose office is proposing numerous changes to the juvenile justice system to better punish repeat offenders.
Howard's team of attorneys have proposed amending state law to allow for repeat juvenile offenders to be detained longer at the Fulton County Youth Detention Center, and to expand the scope of who authorities can detain.
Juvenile offenders deemed "incompetent"-- whether through mental or emotional disabilities, learning disabilities, illiteracy or other issues - are not allowed to be detained, even if the juveniles are repeat offenders, Howard's office said.
Howard said his is working with lawmakers to amend state law to better detain and rehabilitate juvenile offenders, especially if they are deemed violent; his office proposes the creation of a state-supervised rehabilitation center separate from the Fulton County Youth Detention Center.
Chief Judge Bradley Boyd of the Fulton County Juvenile Justice System said Governor Nathan Deal's Council on Criminal Justice Reform is also working to address state law language to better detain repeat offenders.