MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mayor Jim Strickland on Tuesday discussed the court system’s “revolving door” regarding criminals on WREG’s Live at 9.
Strickland explained that his number one priority is fighting crime in Memphis, but it starts with the court system.
Watch the full Live at 9 interview below
He referenced Sunday’s shooting outside Alfred’s on Beale Street that injured two people including a street vendor. Archie Lee Mays was arrested at the scene and charged, but was quickly released on bail.
“The man who shot two people is already out of court,” Strickland said. He criticized the courts, claiming it encourages offenders to keep up their criminal lifestyle.
Cameron Sexton, Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives, also expressed frustration regarding the downtown shooting. In a Twitter post, he wrote, “The new bail system in Shelby County has turned 201 Poplar into a revolving door for criminals. We need to fix this.”
Archie Mays, the suspect, was given a $150,000 bond. He was released on May 3, three days after the incident occurred.
Court documents state that video shows Mays shooting the victim after the victim reportedly pushed Mays to the ground. Memphis Police say the victim admitted to pushing Mays because Mays allegedly poured a drink on the victim’s souvenir cart, damaging his merchandise.
The victim says he was defending his property. An uninvolved bystander was also hit in the hand by the bullet.
Back in August of last year, Shelby County announced creating a new bail process that would make the county’s system fairer. It went into effect in February.
It allows offenders to have a separate bail hearing no later than three days after their arrest to determine if they can afford the bail they were given. Strickland says accused criminals getting out of jail early on a low or no bond isn’t new, and he believes the new system does not help.
“The bails are often too low, and they let out dangerous criminals, and they put us at risk,” said Strickland.
Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy posted an op-ed on his website saying, “Only about 23% of Shelby County defendants are arrested for another crime while out on bail; re-arrests for violent crimes while out on bail occur less than 4% of the time.”
Still, Strickland believes changes need to be made, and he would also like the public to have access to know who the judges making those bail decisions are. He wrote a letter to the court system asking for more transparency.
“So we, the public, can witness who is doing this and know the names. Know what positions they have, and therefore they can be held accountable,” Strickland said.
Mulroy also wrote, “Focusing primarily on bail is a distraction that won’t solve our crime problem.”