In Colombia, there are 2,400 young people, between the ages of 14 and 17, in 22 detention centers.
They are accused of homicides, kidnappings, and extortions. In fact, 600 minors are captured every year for homicides. About 20 percent of the minors in the detention centers are second-time offenders.
Colombia has the highest rate of minors committing crimes of any Latin American country, according to a study done by Unicef in 2010.
The detention centers are unsanitary, overcrowded, and food is scarce.
The young man who attempted to assassinate former minister Fernando Londoño was 16 years old. He was sentenced to eight years in a detention center. He was a hired killer and a member of the “Parche de Zuley,” a deadly gang from Cali who hires itself out as urban mercenaries.
The question is: Are these young people victims of criminal gangs who use them; or have they embarked on a criminal career and are old enough to understand what they are doing?