Department of Justice Releases Results of Ground-Breaking Tennessee Investigation

The U.S. Department of Justice's (DOJ) Civil Rights Division's recent investigation of the Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County Tennessee is a "must read" for youth justice advocates, especially as it relates to racial and ethnic disparities and the prosecution of youth in adult criminal court.

The DOJ's extensive investigation, which began nearly three years ago, found a failure to provide adequate due process protections for children before transferring them to adult criminal court and racial disparities in the treatment of African-American children. The report shows that an African-American child is twice as likely as a white child to be recommended for transfer to adult court. Of the 390 transfers to adult court in 2010 in Tennessee, approximately one half were from Shelby County, and all but two of the total children transferred were African-American.

“This report is a step toward our goal of improving the juvenile court, increasing the public’s confidence in the juvenile justice system, and maintaining public safety,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at a press conference when the report was released. “Upholding the constitutional rights of children appearing before the court is necessary to achieve these ends. The department will work with Memphis leadership to create a comprehensive blueprint that will create sustainable reforms in the juvenile justice system.”

Click here for the full report.

The post above is reprinted with permission from the Campaign for Youth Justice's blog.

Liz Ryan brings more than two decades of experience to the Campaign for Youth Justice (CFYJ), an organization she founded that is dedicated to ending the practice of trying, sentencing and incarcerating children in the adult criminal justice system. In her capacity at CFYJ, Liz is responsible for overall strategy, management and fundraising. Liz currently serves as the co-chair of the Act 4 Juvenile Justice campaign, an effort launched to reauthorize the Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). Prior to starting The Campaign for Youth Justice, Ms. Ryan served for five years as the Advocacy Director for the Youth Law Center’s Building Blocks for Youth Initiative, a project to reduce the over-incarceration and disparate treatment of children of color in the juvenile justice system. Ms. Ryan holds a BA from Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA) and an MA from The George Washington University (Washington, DC).

Updated: February 08 2018