Juvenile Court leaders believe budget makes room for more intervention efforts

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Leaders at Shelby County Juvenile Court believe the new fiscal year's budget will make gains in intervention efforts to help juvenile offenders.

This week, Shelby County commissioners passed the fiscal year 2017 budget, giving about $247,700 to Juvenile Court and $169,000 to a mentoring program called Juvenile Intervention and Faith-Based Follow-Up (JIFF).

"What some of the money we've got will allow us to do is increase those interventions that we currently have that are working," said Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael.

Michael believes the funding will help many offenders who messed up but do not require lock-up. He said some offenders do not need to be in detention with other youth who committed very serious crimes.

"We've got money now that'll give us the ability to buy more ankle bracelets and get kids out of detention that don't need to be there," he said.

Michael said that for some offenders, who commit something like a property crime, juvenile court has between 60 to 80 ankle monitors.

Those monitors allow juveniles to go home, but they alert the court if offenders venture somewhere they should not be.

Authorities said the new budget will allow the court to buy more.

"We can keep the kids out of detention but monitor, you know, their comings and goings," said Juvenile Court CAO Pam Skelton.

Michael said county funding will also allow JIFF to take on more offenders. Michael explained that the program works with offenders after school, a time many young people can get into trouble.

"We know we're going to save more kids than we lose," Michael said.

Skelton estimated that last year, the court made contact with about 11,000 delinquent children. That is down from the year before.

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