PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Guns, stolen cars, drugs, and arrest: it’s a cycle that’s very familiar to young criminals.
Sunday’s fiery SUV crash that killed three teens is bringing the problem into the spotlight.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri summed up his feelings.
“The juvenile justice system is not working,” he said as he explained Sunday morning’s events.
That is sharp criticism from the top lawman in Pinellas County.
Gualtieri pointed out, crimes involving “prolific juvenile offenders” happen every day.
State Senator Darryl Rouson said now is the time to change that.
“Starting in third and fourth grade, teaching kids that it’s not okay to burglarize somebody’s automobile,” he said.
And also not okay to run from a cop. Senator Rouson, the sheriff and many others are frustrated by the inability to put a lid on juvenile crime.
“There’s no fear of consequence, and if there is not fear of consequence, you end of with kids 14, 15, 16-years-old, that get arrested 126 times,” said the sheriff.
The solution, so far, seems elusive.
“I’ve been tired of the fried chicken, gospel songs, hand holding praying kind of thing. It’s time for action,” said Senator Rouson.
He is working on legislation to reduce juvenile crime. Others have tried and failed, but the senator has high hopes.
“I’m confident, because I know there are some good people with good hearts and good intentions working towards this, and it will include parents,” he said.
Senator Rouson is asking for a “deep dive” into the six teens involved in Sunday’s car thefts and eventual crash, to learn how the juvenile system handled their multiple arrests.
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