Commission, Mayor Mark Luttrell at odds on DOJ oversight

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A battle is brewing between the Shelby County Commission and Mayor Mark Luttrell.

On Monday, commissioners approved a resolution opposing the mayor’s push to end federal oversight of the juvenile justice system.

Last Wednesday, Mayor Luttrell, Sheriff Bill Oldham and Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael sent a letter to U.S. General Attorney Jeff Sessions asking that the Department of Justice end their oversight of Juvenile Court.

In 2012, a federal investigation found  several problems at Juvenile Court.

Specifically, the court “failed to provide constitutionally required due process to all children and specifically discriminated against African-American children.”

When the letter was sent last week, some commissioners said they were blindsided and don’t believe the federal oversight should end, leading to the vote Monday evening.

Seven commissioners voted for the resolution while the others abstained.

Commissioner Steve Basar was one of those who abstained because he was upset that commissioners voted to delay the budget decision which was supposed to take place during Monday’s meeting.

“I’m not saying it’s not important, but we’re willing to debate this and we’re not willing to debate the budget and I’m very disappointed in that, Chairman.”

The deadline to have a budget approved is July 1.

Since they will not meet that deadline, commissioners ended up passing a continuing resolution to keep the current budget in place until a new budget is passed.

The next budget vote is scheduled for July 10.

Mayor Luttrell vowed to veto the measure approved Monday evening.

Read the letter sent from organizations and individuals opposed to Luttrell’s request to end federal oversight

Luttrell sent the following statement:

Significant progress has been made at juvenile court during the past five years.  Many policies and procedures have been updated and will continue to be monitored by a consortium of agencies and community services.  Based on that on-going oversight to ensure the safety and rights of juvenile offenders, I stand by the request to remove juvenile court from DOJ oversight.

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