CHICAGO — Activists say they don’t want Melissa Ortega’s death to be in vain, and they’re calling for a reform to the juvenile justice system. 

On Thursday, WGN News learned the 16-year-old charged with firing the shot that killed 8-year-old Melissa was out on probation after pleading guilty in two carjackings.

Activists believe, he too, is a victim because the system failed him, not intervening and deterring him from the path of crime. 

“There should have been some help for this individual and there should have been some help for his family before he graduated to be a murder,” community activist Andrew Holmes said. “Her blood is on this county’s hands and this state’s hands because this system and this society failed this baby.”

Marvin Edwards, with 100 Men Standing, said the justice system should not continue to release repeat offenders, regardless of their age.

“You cannot send repeat offenders, because they’re juveniles, back out into the communities to continue their terroristic ways,” Edwards said. “We want them to be able to get the full extent of punishment by the law so they can understand.”

Activists want state and local lawmakers to make the laws tougher on kids who commit violent crimes. Some would even like to see parents held responsible when their children commit crimes. They say it’s a drastic means to prevent another killing like 8-year-old Melissa Ortega.