Investigation launched into Shelby County inmate’s death

Investigation launched into Shelby County inmate’s death

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Questions remain after the death of a Mid-South man in custody at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center.

A spokesperson with the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office says 32-year-old Tommy Young was found dead in his cell Saturday evening.

Court records show Young was charged with aggravated burglary and theft of property in 2015 for which he served two years at the Shelby County Correctional Center.

While there, Young was involved in an incident in November 2017 in which he allegedly threw a substance believed to be feces mixed with water in the face of a prison guard.

Although that incident happened in 2017, court records show Young wasn't served his warrant for that incident until January of 2020.

Law enforcement officials say that warrant was served during a traffic stop for a suspicious vehicle which landed him back in jail.

His bond was set at $100.

"We put peoples' freedom pre-trial up for sale and if you can't afford it you sit in the jail,” said Josh Spickler with Just City.

Just City is a Memphis group fighting for more humane treatment in the justice system. Spickler says he's frustrated when he hears about instances like Young's, especially when they end in tragedy.

"Shelby County is addicted to incarceration, we're abusing that jail - it's a very expensive abuse too,” he said.

We reached out to Young's mom who didn't want to talk, but in a social media post she expressed her son dealt with mental health issues.

"A large percentage of people in jails suffer from mental health issues and that's not any different in Shelby County,” Spickler said.

Spickler believes the system needs to change so that people won't continue to be unfairly punished and lose their lives.

"It's punishing poverty and it's punishing innocent people."

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