Crime committed by kids is on the rise; officials say they want to connect with at-risk youth before it’s too late

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Crime committed by kids is on the rise, according to Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael. He said there could be a direct connection between schools being closed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and violent crime being committed by kids.

Michael said while there are fewer children in the Juvenile Detention Center, the ones there are charged with very violent crimes.

“Three first murders, upstairs, we have two reckless homicides. We have 8 or 10 car jackings,” Michael said.

Judge Michael said more teens are committing crimes with a weapon often putting their lives and others in danger. He said what happened to 16-year-old Cameron Pryor during an attempted carjacking at the Kroger gas station on Poplar Avenue is an example.

“I believe he came in last week for theft of an automobile. He was released, and he was killed yesterday in an attempted carjacking,” Michael said.

Michael said they try diversion programs to help children facing low-level charges turn their life around, but they couldn’t get to Pryor in time.

“16-years-old,” Michael said. “Never been in trouble before this year and not in school. Not in front of his computer. Out with crew and he’s lost his life.”

It is one reason Mayor Lee Harris said getting the students back to the classroom is a priority.

“We have to keep kids engaged and return an in-classroom option,” Harris said. “And this going to have as you say a connection to the crime rate because a lot of the crime, unfortunately, is crime that is perpetrated by young men and women.”

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