(Memphis) Parents and children file in and out of Shelby County Juvenile Court every day.
We found one man who had just gotten his 15-year-old son out, after the teen was taken in for fighting, “They asked him to leave. He wouldn’t leave and they arrested him and the little boy who was with him.”
We asked parents what they thought about the report that children’s rights were being violated in the court system and if they thought African American children were discriminated against.
“One of these kids go out and carjack somebody, guess what they are gonna get 7.2 or 51 years. White kids don’t get that much. What do they get? Pat on the wrist. I know your people, don’t do that no more,” says one father.
“It’s a double standard. Some got a slap on the wrist, didn’t have to stay long down at the place. Some had to linger,” said a grandmother.
Pastor Keith Norman said the community has to get involved, especially with some of the new findings.
“There was also an alarming statistic in here, where a million dollar bond was set for a child stealing rims off of a car,” says Norman.
Juvenile Court Judge Curtis Person says he’ll work with the Justice Department to correct problems, but disagrees with many of the things found wrong, “I don’t think that race enters into the decision making process at juvenile court.”
Under Judge Person’s leadership since 2006, the court has won awards.
News Channel 3 recently highlighted its Hope Academy, created to make sure students keep up on their school work while in the juvenile lockup.
“The court only detained 479 of the 5,249 children who were transported to the court in 2011,” says Person. “The court is only detaining those children who are dangerous to themselves or to the community.”
“I do know that Judge Person has made positive strides in the court,” says Pastor Norman. “But I am concerned that these things exist now and continue to exist.”