Juvenile Court Judges Weighs in on Youth Violence

CHATTANOOGA (WDEF) — Last Friday, a 15 year old was arrested for the shooting that happened two weeks ago on Walnut Street.

In the gang-related shooting that happened last weekend on McCallie Avenue, the youngest victim was 16.

According to Juvenile Court Judge Robert Philyaw, offences involving juveniles have increased recently.

“The real alarming thing, the thing that concerns us all, is the nature of the offences we’re seeing. More and more violent, more and more gun charges, more and more stolen cars,” said Philyaw.

Philyaw is also concerned with the ease by which juveniles are obtaining firearms, particularly those taken from vehicles.

“I have too many kids telling me it’s easy to get a gun. I’ve had numbers of kids tell me it’s easy to get a gun, and they’re out there, and most of them, by and far — law enforcement will tell you the same thing — they’re stolen, sometimes out of homes, but most times out of cars,” he said.

According to Philyaw, Chattanooga does have an issue with youth gang involvement, particularly in the school system.

He also emphasized that juveniles are not shielded from consequences due to their age, citing hundreds of instances in which youths have been tried as adults.

“Among them are six that have come through this courthouse in the last nine years who have been convicted as adults and are now serving life sentences in prison, meaning they won’t even be eligible for parole until they’re 67 or they’re 68 years old,” he added.

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