Family questions north Georgia juvenile system - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Family questions north Georgia juvenile system

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CATOOSA COUNTY, GA (WRCB) - A family in Catoosa County says they've fallen through the cracks of the juvenile justice system, claiming their 15-year-old son has become increasingly violent, to the point they fear for their lives but nothing was done until another family member stepped in to help.

The Whittles were granted legal custody of their son when he was only 9-months-old and just out of state custody. His biological mother was seen as unfit to raise him

"Its heart breaking and I've cried so much that I feel like I'm all dried up, I can't cry another tear," Marlene Whittle says.

For the past three years Whittle says she and her husband have lived in fear of their teenage son. "I've woke up before with his hands around my neck," she says. "He'll say I felt like I was gonna kill you today."

She says he's also stolen thousand of dollars from their home and claims her cries to the juvenile court system fell on deaf ears.

"First they said he was incompetent to stand trial, they just sent him back home to me and told me to get counseling," Whittle explains.

Counseling, she says they've been through since her son was a toddler, "well, he's been in behavioral health management since he was 3-years-old."
    
Channel 3 obtained multiple incident reports spanning years, we reached out to the judge over their case. Due to privacy laws he could not discuss specifics but did says if a parent claims they can no longer take care of a child, by court order the Department of Children Services is required to get involved but Whittle says she did just that.

"I would tell them I'm afraid for my life, I'm afraid for my husband's life. We cannot live like this anymore and they would say well, I think you need more counseling," Whittle says.

Whittle hopes their story will help save another family from going through the same thing.

"I love him with all my heart and I hate to see anything happen to him and I want him to be at home but I cannot live like that anymore."

Last week a judge ordered Whittle's son to remain in a juvenile facility after he violated his probation. His sentencing hearing is on June, 16. The Whittles hope the court will make the best decision for their son and for their safety.
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