COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - This year continues to be a year of chaos and new concerns.
Columbus is seeing an alarming trend in the number of teenagers being charged with violent crimes like murder.
“Little kids used to have the biggest problems of shoplifting. It was their biggest problem, now they play with guns and knives killing,” said Marcia Denson, the mother of a Columbus murder victim.
Attorney Jennifer Curry has more than a decade of experience defending juveniles in the courtroom.
“Recently, in the last three years we’ve seen an escalation, and just in the last year, I’ve seen a huge influx of violent crimes we’re seeing with juveniles,” said Curry.
17 of the 35 arrests by the homicide unit this year are under 20 years old.
Three 19-year-olds, four 18-year-olds, and four 17-year-olds were are all charged as adults by default. There are also two 16-year-olds and four 14-year-olds being charged with murder under Senate Bill 440.
“Senate Bill 440 is when a juvenile is charged with a crime that the state feels is so egregious that they should be charged and punished as an adult,” Curry explained.
“It’s sickening because they’re getting younger and younger and younger, and they don’t care who they kill and who’s left behind,” said Denson.
Curry said one reason why juvenile crimes may be up is because kids have not been in school as much this year. She said kids need structure, and it’s time the community gets involved.
“I truly feel like the community needs to step up, rally around each other, and help each other out so these juveniles don’t get lost,” said Curry.
Curry said any case involving a true minor under 17 does move faster than most adult murder cases through the court system.