MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Female employees wore red as a sign of unity with Judge Dan Michael and the Shelby County Juvenile Court during Michael’s State of the Court Address on Friday.
During the address, Michael said he likes the way the court is heading, and they are no longer under federal supervision. He declared a “mission accomplished.”
“The department of justice has place us has placed us in compliance with memorandum of agreement to the point of its completion and ended federal monitoring of the juvenile court of Memphis and Shelby County,” Michael said. “This never could have happened without each and every one of you.”
He also said he is pleased Shelby County Commissioners have set in motion funding for a new youth justice and education facility, something he said was long overdue.
“The facility we have is old,” Michael said. “It’s at least 45 years old, and it’s not state-of-the-art. It’s dark, it’s small, it’s cramped.”
He said a program designed to address racial disparity among youth who come in contact with police is working, diverting more than 3,600 youth away from formal charges in two years.
But he sees an issue with a federal expert’s opinion that too manu juveniles are being charged as adults.
“Right now in the detention center, we’ve got nine young adults charged with first degree murder, probably 40 to 45 charged with aggravated robbery where they took a gun and put in someone’s face, carjacking, kidnapping, aggravated rape, child rap,e and when I am challenged on those issues of transfer, I say to the community, which of these children do you want to take home with you,” Michael said.
The judge said a youth assessment center that will provide police with a place to take minor young offenders for the night instead of juvenile court will open in April.