In the past five years, the number of armed robberies in which juveniles were charged in Cleveland’s Cuyahoga County has skyrocketed more than 165 percent, says the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Some of that may be because police are cracking down, making more arrests, but police and prosecutors say there are simply more guns on the streets and more youths wielding them recklessly. Three boys, 15, were arrested in one robbery in which the take was $5 and a food stamp card.
Police are seeing more cheaply acquired guns on the street being carried by younger children, who are often directed by older youths or adults who tell them they will get a lighter penalty if caught, said prosecutor Michael Horn. “They are robbing people mostly in their own neighborhoods and getting a few dollars and maybe a bus pass,” Horn said. “But the thing is that they are pulling guns and sometimes pulling the trigger.” Said lawyer John Lawson, who represents many juveniles: “Nobody seems to be taking a leadership role. Nobody is stepping forward to say how we are going to take the guns out of these kids’ hands. Nobody is demanding we go after the suppliers.”