SCLC: Shelby Co. Juvenile Justice Issues Could have been Avoided

Original Story

(Memphis) The president of Memphis’ SCLC believes every child who was a victim of discrimination at the hands of the justice department should be released.

He also believes their records should be cleared.

This comes after a three-year audit by the US Justice Department where they found race was a deciding factor in the treatment and punishment of juvenile suspects.

Reverend Dwight Montgomery is not only president of the SCLC, but he also serves on the Juvenile Court Advisory Board formed by juvenile court Judge Curtis Person when he was elected back in 2006.

He says the board hasn’t met in years, but if they had been meeting the problems presented by the justice department could have been avoided.

“Had there have been board meetings I would have been advocating very strongly ‘here are some issues that have come let’s deal with them,” said Montgomery.

Montgomery said parents have been coming to him for years expressing the same concerns laid out in the Justice Departments audit.

Montgomery said if the Juvenile Court Advisory Board had been meeting all along they could have addressed those concerns, “Obviously there is a problem and I just want to make sure after I’ve been asked by persons who saw it on the news and know what they have gone through (saying) ‘Pastor Montgomery please help.”

When he found out about the audit, Montgomery sent Judge Curtis Person a letter asking for a meeting to discuss the board.

That meeting is set for Tuesday.

Judge person says he disagrees with the audits claim of racial discrimination even though the audit shows African Americans are less likely to get a warning in court and more likely to be charged as an adult.

“I deplore and will not tolerate discrimination at the juvenile court of any kind. Whether it’s based on race or religion or age or any other factor I just will not tolerate that,” said Judge Person.

Reverend Montgomery says he hopes to focus on prevention and intervention at tomorrow’s meeting to keep children from even going to juvenile court.