(Memphis) Beverly Shelley never thought teen violence would impact her family.
“We live in a beautiful country neighborhood and I would have never dreamed that the decisions of teenagers would have broken my family,” said Shelley.
But Oct. 4, 2013, her whole life changed.
Her husband was shot and killed when police say three teens planned and carried out a robbery in the Berclair neighborhood where he was working.
“They attended the same school system that I worked for,” said Shelley.
Beyond the shock of losing her husband, Beverly says she was even more shocked to learn about the teen suspects histories.
They had violent records each accused of assault and sexual assault.
Yet they were free and showing off their illegal behavior.
“On Facebook, just posing with guns and gang signs,” said Shelley about the teens.
They aren't the only teens with violent felonies on their records but on the streets.
News Channel 3 wanted to know why they weren’t locked up.
“The court itself has a goal of rehabilitating all children and they are children up until they are 18 they are children,” said former Juvenile Court judge Claudia Haltom.
Haltom was a juvenile court judge for 17 years.
She retired in 2010, but dealt with children with violent histories.
“I was shocked. I was shocked and disturbed and concerned with where these children would end up and what victims they would have,” said Haltom.
Judges determine a juvenile’s fate. But it was frustrating for Haltom.
“The concern though has been that the system that`s been created, where the judges have limited options really ties the hands of the court,” said Haltom.
For the violent juveniles in court, the options are very limited. Put them in the custody of the Department of Children Services, which could then send the teen criminals to youth development centers-- which are similar to jail.
But typically after nine or months, DCS moves the teens to group or foster homes.
The only other option is transferring the case to 201 Poplar to be tried as an adult.
“This young person is transferred and spends ten years in prison and at age 25, what we have is a very angry young man coming out of a prison whom has had no rehabilitation,” said Haltom.
Haltom says the state wants to reunite kids with their families. And that’s how many violent teens, end up back on the street.
“I think the juvenile court is doing everything it can within the rules given to them but these are state decisions. Allowing Shelby County to rehabilitate the youth who commit crimes here would make a difference,” added Haltom.
Finding out just how many teens with violent records are on the streets iIs hard to put a finger on.
Their records are protected because they're underage.
But Beverly wants to know, who is protecting the public?
“It's not fair for the rest of us to suffer because you are protecting the rights of known criminals,” said Shelley.
It’s been one month since Shelley’s husband was killed.
She is determined to take her story to Nashville, even Washington if she has to, to see change.