FULTON COUNTY - A local juvenile judge said gangs are recruiting children as young as 12-years-old. Chief Fulton Judge Bradley Boyd said he has seen purported young member of gangs in his courtroom.
Boyd, who has worked with young people for four decades, says he is optimistic a change in how juvenile offenders are handled will yield positive results.
He and seven other judges maintain it is counterproductive to lock up or warehouse young people.
The state has ordered all Georgia counties to do a risk assessment when a young defendant comes into a court. For example, if a 15-year-old committed a smash and grab, it would be better to place the child into a rehabilitation program with the hope that his criminal behavior won't escalate to violence.
Yet, if that same teen is involved in a carjacking with a weapon, then Boyd said the proper place can be jail and the adult court.
Here's what the judge cannot tell us. Because there is no centralized juvenile data base, Boyd may not be able to tell if the young person who appears before him has done the same crime over and over in surrounding counties. He said state information technology managers are working on that deficiency.