According to a federal court monitor, racial disparities and inequities remain in the Shelby County Juvenile Court system.
A federal court monitor finally released their final report to the public.
Monitor’s watched over the court for 7 years, after the department of justice found systemic discrimination against African American children.
That monitoring abruptly ended last fall.
The monitor found that while progress has been made, racial disparities and inequities remain in the juvenile court system.
“It’s pretty well what we expected, that there’s still definite disparities between white children and black children in juvenile court, ” said attorney Josh Spickler.
Spickler isn’t surprised a federal court monitor found racial inequities still exist at Juvenile Court.
Spickler is with Just City, a non-profit agency supporting criminal justice reform.
“The monitor makes the point that a lot of the attempts to address this weren’t made until very recently,” said Spickler.
In 2012, a Department of Justice report found systematic discrimination against African American children in the juvenile court system, from unsafe confinement conditions to failure to provide due process. As a result of the finding, the county and the feds entered into an agreement to reform the court.
For seven years, monitors watched the court. The monitoring abruptly ended when elected county officials petitioned to end federal oversight.
The final report was finally released, only after Shelby County Commissioners pushed for it.
The monitor says in the report while efforts at juvenile justice reform are to be applauded, success of recent initiatives is yet to be apparent and says racial disparities are nearly the same as in 2012.
“The ending of the oversight was purely political, and I don’t believe it should have ended,” said Spickler. “What we had were benchmarks visits from experts –national independent experts– on the issue who were helping us along this very difficult road,” said Spickler.