Memphis 'juvenile safety center' plan clears legislative hurdle - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Memphis 'juvenile safety center' plan clears legislative hurdle

The proposed safety centers would keep kids out of juvenile court for breaking the curfew. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5) The proposed safety centers would keep kids out of juvenile court for breaking the curfew. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis leaders turned to Nashville to help set up juvenile safety centers meant to more effectively deal with curfew violators. Monday, the
plan cleared one hurdle by passing the TN State Senate.

Staying out too late is a teenage temptation.

"Oh yeah, I've thought about it," said 13-year-old Xavier Fuller.

Fuller said he wouldn't do it as long as his father is around.

"Well, we already have a rule," said father Carlos Fuller. "We've got the streetlight rule, I don't know what the curfew is."

In Memphis, the curfew bans minors 16 and under from being on the streets from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekdays, and one hour later on weekends.

Currently, many offenders end up at juvenile court with a resulting record. But a proposed bill, which passed the Tennessee Senate Monday, would allow the creation of "juvenile safety centers." Counseling could be offered to those simply violating the curfew.

"The key thing is to have as many alternatives as possible," said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.

Wharton and others pitched the idea following a number of high-profile youth crimes last year, including the Kroger mob attack.

"I will say this from experience, those who habitually blow the curfew, it's a matter of time before they end up on the wrong side of the law," said Wharton. "That's why you get them early, without taking them into the court system."

"And this child is kept there until the parent or guardian can pick this child up or until 6 a.m. when the curfew is lifted," said Tennessee Senator Sara Kyle, who sponsored the bill.

"That's better then taking them to juvenile court," said Carlos Fuller.

The Tennessee State House is expected to approve the plan by the end of this session. There remains the question of cost and where the juvenile safety centers might be housed.

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