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Report backs federal oversight of Juvenile Court

by James Coleman —

Federal oversight of Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court could make a return following a Shelby County Commission-appointed Juvenile Justice Consortium report calling for its resumption.

The practice was halted by the Trump Administration in 2018.

The five members of the consortium also advised the commission to turn to the Justice Department to evaluate where progress has been made and remaining challenges.

The report stated the DOJ should return to conduct its own evaluation of the court and take another look at the Memorandum of Agreement inked in 2012. 

It went on to state the court had made little headway in transparency in both court process and data. 

As a result, questions remain whether defendants and their families are being treated according to the standards spelled out in the agreement.

Members also claimed their requests for data from the court went unanswered. 

However, another option proposed by the study group is more intensive oversight on a local level.

The commission is expected to discuss the recommendations on Sept. 22.

A DOJ investigation in 2012 revealed racial disparities led to more referrals and harsher punishments for Black teens compared to whites facing the same charges.

Due process procedures in the court were also criticized.

As a result, monitors were brought in to observe the court and pour over related data. The MOA was agreed upon by the DOJ and then-Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and the court.


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