Study says Tennessee juvenile court discriminates against blacks


Published: April 26, 2012 at 2:30 PM

WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) — A federal report released Thursday says a Tennessee juvenile justice system discriminates against black children.

The U.S. Justice Department investigation said a comprehensive investigation showed the Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County and the Shelby County Juvenile Detention Center had serious problems.

The court failed “to provide constitutionally required due process [including a reading of Miranda rights] to all children appearing for delinquency proceedings … [and] the court’s administration of juvenile justice discriminates against African-American children,” the department said in a statement.

Analyses cited in the study accompanying the statement “show that black children are disproportionately represented in almost every phase of the Shelby County juvenile justice system, including pretrial detention and transfers to criminal court.”

The detention center also “violates the substantive due process rights of detained youth by not providing them with reasonably safe conditions of confinement,” the statement said.

The department said it has received cooperation from the court’s Judge Curtis Person, who has made improvements and is working with U.S. officials to make more.

The investigation began in August 2009, was conducted under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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