FRANKLIN COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Over the last few weeks, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office raised an alarm about state services to children in their area.
Deputies had been searching for one particular teenager and on Saturday it ended with that teenager’s arrest.
Franklin County Sheriff AJ Smith condemned DCF and DJJ for not helping and feared it would lead to more serious crimes, and that’s exactly what happened.
“If we would’ve had them detained or placed several weeks ago, we wouldn’t have had the robberies,” Smith said. “It’s unfortunate now, that the kids are even deeper in the system because now they are changed with some very serious crimes they could be charged as adults,” Smith said.
In November, the teen was arrested for trespassing and eventually released with nowhere to go. Sheriff’s investigators said Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice was not able to help the child, because he did not meet the requirements to be locked up.
Sheriff Smith said this situation is a part of a larger issue and hopes conversations with state agencies will bring the change that they need to the system.
“They don’t need to be on the street. We are already seeing what happened if they stay on the street. They stay on the street, they are going to continue to commit more crimes and more serious crimes. In the course of two months, it’s gone from simple trespass to armed robbery, from A to Z,” Smith said.
After three weeks, the teenager was arrested and charged for armed robbery, aggravated assault, and carrying a concealed firearm.
“I don’t want there to be a next time,” Smith said. “Let’s do something with these kids. Let’s get them placed in a place where they can become a productive part of the community or if they aren’t going to do better, they need to be locked up.”
Smith believes the guidelines for detaining juveniles need to change so they can prevent them from turning into career criminals.
Smith said on Friday he will be meeting with the secretary of DJJ to discuss these issues.