JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Most runaways in the Jackson metro area end up at the Henley Young Juvenile Detention Center. Judge Bill Skinner tells us he has a counselor on staff who deals with nothing, but runaways.
"We've got a small percentage of them that are sleeping under the bridges, sleeping in the woods beside the interstate, that are sleeping in these motels, that are doing whatever they have to do to have a place to sleep and eat," said Judge Skinner.
Judge Skinner says there are 150 to 200 runaways in this area each year. Six out of 10 girls test positive for sexually transmitted diseases or std's, 4 out of 10 boys.
"I know of a facility that the other day that took three females in. All three females were pregnant; two of them had chlamydia and one of them had syphyllis," Skinner added.
Tuesday night a 16-year-old runaway from Lake Charles, Louisiana tried to Rob the Tai Hong Restaurant in Jackson. Cambri Joseph's mother says she is a chronic runaway.
"Cambri is a sweet girl, it's just when she gets a hold of those drugs it flips everything upside down," said Jacquela Lassien, Cambri Joseph's mother.
According to Joseph's mother, she ran away from a group home in Lake Charles and was living in a hotel room in Jackson with friends before the robbery. She believes drugs and her daughter losing custody of her baby led to this latest round of trouble. Joseph was also arrested for robbing an Exxon in Vinton, Louisiana almost a year ago.
"She said well I'm not going to get my baby back, that's my only concern so I'm not going back," Lassien added.
Judge Skinner says unfortunately crime is how many runaways are forced to survive.
"A lot of little girls get out there and the way they make money, the chronic runaways is prostitution. You have these people that use the children for child exploitation, a lot of them have been sexually or physically abused. A lot of them are truant, curfew violations, out here pan handling, a lot of kids are shoplifting," Skinner added.
Judge Skinner says runaways are a community problem and it will take everyone working together to keep these kids off the streets and out of trouble.
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