Montgomery proposes alternatives to deal with minor juvenile offenses

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - SCLC President Dwight Montgomery says the children of Memphis deserve more education in good behavior, and if they commit minor offenses, they deserve intervention over incarceration.

Montgomery wants the city of Memphis to have more tools in place to keep youth from a life of crime.

"The bottom line is trying to reach our children with intervention and prevention," Montgomery said Monday.

In a recent letter, Montgomery asked Memphis Mayor A C Wharton to implement programs to educate youth about making the right choices.  And if they do commit a minor infraction, Montgomery believes, 201 Poplar should not be their first stop.

"Instead of handcuffing them, putting them in a police car, taking them downtown, you try to have a diversion that can move them in the right direction," Montgomery said.

Montgomery then described what he meant by "minor offense."

"If some children got into a little fight, the child should not be handcuffed and taken downtown," he said. "When I was in high school, I got into a number of fights.  Never was arrested or taken downtown.  It was handled in-house and I didn't turn out so bad."

Wharton wrote Montgomery back, saying children with minor infractions should, "whenever possible, be diverted from formal entry into the justice system."

Memphis Chief Administrative Officer George Little said the administration is giving Montgomery's suggestion serious thought.

"We've been working with the Memphis City School system on security measures over the last several weeks and we think this is one more appropriate step," Little said.
The administration will talk with police.

"We're further refining our responses and even a set of protocols that we can then share with Memphis City Schools as an alternative way of doing business," Little said.

Montgomery says this does not minimize bad behavior.  He hopes intervention will keep children from turning into hardened criminals, and bring down overall crime.

There is word on a timeline for implementation.

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