MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Shelby County officials said Tuesday they did not have a facility to hold female offenders under 18 who are being tried as adults. The case of a 16-year-old girl in prison in Nashville while awaiting trial highlighted the issue.
"I would love for Shelby County to create a place where girls accused of violent crimes be kept and given supports they need until their cases are tried," he said.
He said his client, now 16, was arrested and charged with murder in the death of another teen last year. She was in the juvenile detention center until prosecutors decided to try her as an adult.
Sheriff’s officials told WREG they don’t have a place to hold young women who are being held as adults but under 18. So in they requested to have two young women transferred to the Department of Corrections prison in Nashville.
"Instead of giving them the facility and resources they need, they transfer them to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, which runs adult prisons for people who have been convicted of felonies," Spickler said.
He said the practice is unfair and discriminatory.
“Boys don’t face this because there are more of them so it’s if nothing else, it's pure gender discrimination,” Spickler said.
He said his client’s family can’t afford the trip to visit and she’s the only girl under 18 in the women’s prison in Nashville, so she’s being held in solitary confinement.
“She may spend a long time in prison but these days are critical. And the damage happening to her in these conditions is irreversible, traumatic and unacceptable,” he said.
For now, he’s requesting the state move her in to a facility that better fits her needs in Davidson County and he hoped Shelby County can come up with a legal solution soon.
Shelby County Sheriff's Office spokesman Earle Farrell called the case a "unique situation" and said the county should not change the way it operates to meet the needs of one girl.