Federal oversight of juvenile court system to return to Shelby County

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. —The federal government is giving more control of the juvenile court system back to Shelby County.

The juvenile court isn’t free of federal oversight but a number of areas like transfer hearings won’t be monitored anymore now that the court has satisfied certain federal requirements.

The change, however, comes with conditions.

Among them staff in the affected areas must be trained and detention staff has to get extra training on things like use of force and suicide prevention.

It’s a big step for the court which requested all federal oversight end, something Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell has wanted too.

"What I’m suggesting is give the local government the opportunity to solve its local problems with oversight being provided by the local officials, county commission,"  Luttrell said.

The Department of Justice and the court signed an agreement in 2012 to fix several issues including unequal treatment of black children in the system.

"If we simply revert to the treatment that was happening before, it's not a good thing," Pastor Kenneth Whalum said.

Whalum hopes things continue to improve but isn’t sure they will.

He says the coming elections are key.

For example, he wants to hear what anyone running for county commission has to say.

"This is their opportunity to articulate their plans to make sure we don't have to have DOJ come in again," Whalum said.

Juvenile court judge Dan Michael is happy about the progress.

Saying the court has “worked voluntarily with the DoJ to create the best juvenile justice system in the nation.”

More requirements in the agreement will have to be satisfied before federal oversight ends completely.