Inside the Montgomery County Youth Detention Facility - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Inside the Montgomery County Youth Detention Facility

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

The news of a 13 and 15 year old, arrested for capital murder in Montgomery, shook many residents to the core. According to police, both had guns when they robbed and shot 19-year-old Kristopher Lewis to death on Saturday night.

WSFA 12 News went to the Montgomery County Youth Detention Facility Wednesday, where both suspects are being detained, to learn more about their future.

Only juveniles who commit the most serious criminal acts walk through the doors to the facility. Each year, nearly 500 minors, from Montgomery and surrounding counties, pass through until their case goes to court, or a judge places them elsewhere.  

The facility currently has 22 suspects. Twenty-one are from Montgomery County. The average stay ranges anywhere between four weeks and two and a half months.

"We probably haven't had a murder charge, of any description, in Montgomery County held here in at least the last three years," admitted juvenile court administrator, Bruce Howell. That is until now.

While Howell could not speak specifically about the 2 juveniles who face capital murder charges, Montgomery police confirm two of the facility's cells belong to them.

"Some of the kids have some real problems, and your heart goes out to them," Howell says, while quickly cautioning, "...some of these kids we deal with are career criminals, and we already know it."

Perhaps the shock value of the juvenile system is connected to suspects, under 14, the same law applied to the 13-year-old in this case. If convicted in juvenile court, a judge can only sentence suspects to serve time in a youth facility until their 21st birthday.

"The juvenile justice system loses jurisdiction at 21," Howell says. Then, they can walk free.

Until a judge makes those tough decisions, the suspects are regimented: Early wake up calls, warm meals, classes with Montgomery Public School teachers, physical and mental activity. For some, it's a more comfortable life than what they've known.   

Howell says there are some who have reached a time when they're to be released and they ask, "Can I stay?"

It won't be known when the two suspects go before a juvenile judge. If requested by the district attorney, juvenile offenders 14 and older can go before a judge, who will determine, if they should be tried as an adult, a ruling based on 6 standard factors.

Copyright 2013 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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