Tennessee County Juvenile Justice System to Undergo Major Changes

By// Brandon Byrd

Shelby County, Tennessee, which includes Memphis, has agreed to undergo significant changes to its juvenile justice system after a 2009 investigation shed light on several infractions and cases of improper suspect handling, according to The New York Times

A federal investigation provided statistics showing that black teenagers were almost twice as likely to be sent to adult holding facilities for minor cases. In some cases teens were left alone in restraining chairs for excessive time periods. Record suicide rates were also found in county juvenile facilities. Other infractions included suspects not being read their Miranda rights and improper handling and delivery of legal documents.

On Monday, Shelby County agreed to a long-term agreement that will improve and revamp the entire juvenile justice system in the county.  The changes include providing bilingual legal papers to suspects, holding hearings within 48 hours of being arrested and developing alternative programs for teens who have committed minor offenses, instead of sending them to adult facilities.  Many of the costs for these changes will fall on the county, however, both the county and the justice department are committed to providing hope for the local community and youth.