Lauderdale County, Miss. As Mississippi's legislative session continues, a Lauderdale County judge is encouraging lawmakers to be proactive when it comes to addressing issues that involve youth. Also, he's making a plea to parents.
Judge Frank Coleman was first elected as a Lauderdale County Judge in 1986. Over the years he says many things have changed.
"It's just gotten to the point that so many interest groups feel that you shouldn't lock a child up period, but they haven't been to Meridian, and they haven't seen 13 and 14-year-olds shooting at each other."
When it comes to curbing the number of young people committing crimes, Judge Coleman says parents are key.
"Parents need to know where their children are, and what they are doing."
All too often Judge Coleman says some parents don't seem to care.
"A guy comes home with a car, they (parents) know that he doesn't have a job, but they take the car to the grocery store, or they ride to the doctors office, and they know it's a stolen car, but they say nothing, and they do nothing. They know a child at 16-years-old doesn't have a wad of $100 bills in his pocket, and they don't report it."
Given his decades of experience, Judge Coleman says the answer to the problem is multifaceted.
"Unless we get some kind of accountability back, the parents have got to take on that responsibility mainly, but then there's the school teachers who need to be given more authority, there needs to be more money put into programs, even if it's after school programs. If you've got 50 kids on three lots playing basketball at least you know where those 50 kids are. If you don't put the money into the programs or alternative programs, they're going to be on the streets doing something else."