Changes coming to Shelby County Juvenile Court - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Changes coming to Shelby County Juvenile Court

(WMC-TV) – Big changes are coming to the Shelby County Juvenile Court on the heels of a scathing Department of Justice investigation.

The DOJ found Black children in Shelby County Juvenile Court were less likely to receive diversion than White children, more likely to be detained, and more likely to be transferred to adult criminal court.

The five year investigation also found a list of other violations, including questioning children without an attorney present, and the use of unsafe restraint and pressure point control tactics.

Shelby County leaders have a positive outlook on this reform.

"We saw it as an opportunity, if given the right resources, and studied in the right way, and prepared for in the right way - to really create a model for how we represent children," said Josh Spickler, Asst. Public Defender, and Shelby County.

The new system would also work to prevent other deficiencies the DOJ found, including excessive bond amounts and failure to get translators for Spanish-speaking children.

Spickler says full reform could take years so they get it right.

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