Twelve-Year-Old Accused of Grand Theft Auto Will Likely Not Serve Jail Time

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PANAMA CITY-- The 12-year-old boy who has allegedly stolen four vehicles over the last two months was back in juvenile court Friday afternoon.

The judge ordered Michael Propst to serve another 21-day detention period.

But some people are wondering why the boy is acting this way, and why authorities aren't doing more to stop him.

It's a question nearly everyone's asking.

"Where are his parents? What is going on here?" Defense Attorney Waylon Graham said.

Propst's mother, Kelly Rayborn, blames law enforcement for not doing enough to stop her son from stealing cars, trucks and school buses.

She made the claim on a local radio show Friday morning.

"I just want to put this across the radio for everybody to hear and it to be clear: If Springfield [Police Department] had done their job the last couple months and last year, he wouldn't be in this predicament," Rayborn said on 92.5 WPAP.

Springfield Police Chief Philip Thorne declined to get into a discussion on that issue, but he says he believes there's a deeper problem.

"My gut feeling is that this is a child that's got some problems, and that he's screaming for help," Chief Thorne said.

"There are some serious, I would say, mental health issues here," Graham said.

Rayborn's comments seem to confirm Thorne's feelings.

"His sister passed away in January, unexpectedly of, might as well say, a heart attack. And ever since then he's been stepping out," Rayborn said.

While that might indicate why Propst is stealing vehicles, it doesn't explain why the justice system is allowing his the freedom to do it.

Despite multiple felony and misdemeanor charges, he likely won't serve any jail time because he's a juvenile.

When it comes down to it, the systems are inherently different. The adult system is often designed to punish whereas the juvenile system is intended to rehabilitate.

"When you're dealing with young children, it's extremely difficult for a judge to put them in 'kiddy prison,'" Graham said.

"He's most likely going to score into a residential program somewhere. And that will include counseling while he's in there," Chief Thorne said. "Things that are positive to try to help him for when he does get out."

But once he does serve his sentence, this case still won't be over for Propst.

"In the criminal justice system, juvenile and adult, they keep up with all your wrongdoings. It never goes away, and those points come back to haunt you later," Graham said.

These charges will make it difficult for Propst to find a job, enroll in college or join the military as an adult.

The bottom line, Chief Thorne says, "We need to change him."

Propst is due back in court on August 21, where he'll likely plead to a number of charges including grand theft auto, burglary and criminal mischief.