Law Enforcement: We will try minors as adults
Sandra Cawthon is still pretty new on the job. She took over less than 3 months ago as the director of Albany's Regional Youth Development Center.
"They come in for anything to shoplifting to heinous crimes. It's just a variation of different crimes," said Cawthon.
On Thursday she met up with the Gang Task Force, updating them on the efforts the center is making to rehabilitate teens in trouble with the law.
Typically the 30 bed facility houses juveniles for about a month.
"We encourage kids to do good behaviors, we encourage kids to follow the rules. We encourage kids to be respectful; we encourage our kids to just be kids that do the right things," said Cawthon.
Law enforcement officers want juveniles to know, that committing a crime won't necessarily get them a free pass to the RYDC. If those crimes are serious enough they'll be tried as an adult and they could end up here, at the Dougherty County Jail.
"What they do not understand, when serious violent crimes are committed. It doesn't matter if your 13, 14, 16 male or female, you will not go to RYDC. You will go to the Dougherty County Jail," said Brian Covington of the Albany Police Department Gang Unit.
"There are certain crimes we call the seven deadly sins. If a person is 13 years or older, if they commit any one of those crimes, which are the most serious violent felonies anyway, then they are automatically sent to the superior court to be tried as an adult," said Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards.
Those seven crimes deemed the deadly sins are; murder, armed robbery with a gun, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery, rape and voluntary manslaughter.
And those crimes could net some serious jail time, even for a child.
"For instance on armed robbery. That would be 10 years without parole. So that would be a mandatory minimum, and most of those offenses could go up to a life sentence," said Edwards.
Officials say often adults will try to convince kids to do crimes like armed robbery, thinking the minor will get a lesser sentence. But if the juvenile gets tried as an adult, that just isn't the case.