NASHVILLE, Tenn. - For nearly two decades Juvenile Magistrate Judge Carlton Lewis has sat on a bench at the Juvenile Justice Center. "Whenever somebody gets to this court every other agency, every other program in the community has probably failed."
The four teens recently charged with criminal homicide may end up in his court room. "Obviously it scares me, the idea of anyone being involved in any kind of violent offense," Lewis said.
Anthony Sinor, Mithcell Mann, Byron Berkley and Terrence Rainey are all 16-years-old, and they're all charged with criminal homicide since mid-January. While some may think it's gang related, officers believe otherwise.
"The kids involved in these shootings are not confirmed gang members and nor do we feel like it's any type of gang initiation," said Officer Kelly Gray.
Gray serves as supervisor for the Gang and High Risk Unit, she said many of the kids coming into court now don't have any previous court involvement. "This is new for us," she said.
We wanted to know, what can be done to prevent teens from committing violent crimes?
"I would love to see churches and faith based organizations become more involved," said Lewis.
At Greater Heights Missionary Baptist Church, Pastor Curtis Bryant is doing what he can to keep teens on the right path by working with the judicial system. A few years ago he founded the No Weapons Program, a safety initiative which promotes delinquency prevention.
"All of us touch youth in some kind of way. It's not just the parent's responsibility, it's not just the pastor's responsibility, it's not just the police department's responsibility," Bryant said.
Meanwhile Judge Lewis believes laws that make it easier to buy guns will only put more firearms into the wrong hands. "Our state leaders have to be very very careful about what they might be fostering," he said.
Currently there are a handful of laws being looked this Legislation session that will make it easier for people to purchase firearms.
Judge Lewis made it clear, he's not against guns but said they are a hot item criminals look to steal. He went on to say the District Attorney's office may decide to try the four teens charged with criminal homicide in adult court