Promises of Reform Coming to Juvenile Justice System

(Memphis) The Department of Justice is keeping its promise of keeping close tabs on Shelby County’s Juvenile Justice Center.

Earlier this year it found violations of due process and blatant discrimination in a 69 page audit.

Six months after the audit outlined systemic failures at the Juvenile Court U.S. District Attorney Ed Stanton says things are looking up.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that the department and the court will come up with an agreement in lieu of litigation in a very lengthy lawsuit,” he said.

Monday night a representative from the DOJ in Washington and a representative of the juvenile court met with members of the community.

“For DOJ to have these types of meetings before we have an agreement is a remarkable thing,” Department of Justice Attorney Winsome Gayle said.

The meetings were promised after the DOJ found the detention center did not provide a safe place for kids, and treated African American children differently, among other things.

“We will have independent oversight for juvenile court. We need to ensure that the findings we made in respect to due process, equal protection, and the facility and the reforms we put in place will address those findings,” she said.

Not only are they outlining protections for due process,  they are changing the public defenders system and creating a community board.

“Citizens need to take part in the beginning and shape how these boards are supposed to be,” one resident said.

Members of the community had the chance to sound off on reforms they believe need happen.

“Somethings wrong when 90 percent of your customers are African American,” Memphis resident, Rosco Brown, said.

The court and the DOJ are expected to come up with an agreement by the end of the year.



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