A Closer Look at Increase in Crime

Lauderdale County Sheriff Billy Sollie says people under 18 are responsible for part of the escalation in crime recently.

"They range from 13 to 17 years of age and they're all repeat offenders," said Sollie.

Sollie says the juvenile charged with two of the seven burglaries that happened in the county Nov. 11 was a juvenile.

In regards to youth crimes committed in the county he says gang activity does not appear to be the catalyst.

"We've interviewed, interviewed, and interviewed and they've indicated to us that it's just an opportunity to have fun," said Sollie.

Sollie says he views the problem as being more widespread.

In all, Mississippi has 300 beds set aside for long-term rehabilitation for young people. With a total of 82 counties to serve, Sheriff Sollie says that's just not enough.

"That puts our judges in not having a large amount of leeway into what they can do with our youth and the youth have learned that," said Sollie.

On top of that, Sollie says officials from the state's youth center repeatedly express concern that the most violent and destructive youth offenders that they house come from Lauderdale County.

"We have a generation of kids 10 to 17 years of age that have not been taught responsibility, that have not been told that there are consequences to your actions because the county can't take any actions. The state can't take any action. They've developed the mentality that I can do what I want to and there's nothing that you can do to me," he said.

Sheriff Sollie says the juvenile center in Lauderdale County closing earlier this year is not a factor in the recent spike in youth crimes.

Juvenile offenders from Lauderdale County are now sent to a new $10 million youth facility in Rankin County.


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