Houston police arrested a ten-year-old girl this month and held her in jail for four days without a lawyer for alleged sexual misconduct with a four-year-old boy.
The child’s name has not been released and police have not provided details about the alleged crime, which they say took place in April. The arrest came after a juvenile sex crime investigator was assigned to the case. “Me and my mom were crying and then she took me to the police car,” the little girl told a local reporter. “I didn’t want to get in.”
“Just to see her looking through those bars screaming for me to get her out was a nightmare,” added her mother, who said her daughter has been accused of raping a four-year-old boy in the courtyard of their apartment complex. “She was just being a child having fun and playing,” her mother said. “She didn’t know she was doing anything wrong.”
The young girl was taken to the Juvenile Justice Center in downtown Houston, where she was fingerprinted, issued a standard jump suit, and locked up in a cell. “And that was my first time being there and I was scared. I thought something was going to happen to me,” she said. With no lawyer, she spent four days in lockup before being released.
The child has been ordered to appear in court later this month. If convicted, she may be required to register as a sex offender.
EJI has argued that underage children should not be arrested, handcuffed, put in jail cells, or treated like adult offenders in the absence of very extreme and unusual circumstances. Many states have no minimum age for prosecuting children as adults and there have been thousands of young children subjected to treatment only appropriate for adult criminal offenders, which can be traumatizing and more serious than the crimes of which some children have been accused.