Local 24 News political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view on a change for phone calls for children held in juvenile detention.
It is always good when public officials are found working on behalf of the community to correct a problem. And that is just what happened Monday with official word that Shelby County children who are locked up in juvenile detention will no longer be charged for every phone call they make to parents or guardians.
It seems like a simple thing, but it’s not. Many of these detainees at Juvenile Court come from impoverished families, where paying $3 per phone call is a hardship they cannot afford. And yet, these children need that lifeline to a familiar voice, no matter what crime they are charged with.
So, Mayor Lee Harris and county commissioner Tami Sawyer, both of whom have been in office just two and a half months, arranged with the county’s vendor to eliminate the phone charges at Juvenile Court, something that should have happened long ago under previous county administrations.
The county will still rake in close to a million dollars a year through excessive phone charges at three other county lockups. But at least the juvenile detainees and their families will be spared that expense.
As Sawyer so accurately put it, we tend to forget that those in juvenile detention are still kids. Many of them are scared, depressed and lonely, and need to talk to family. Being poor should not prevent that from happening, Sawyer says. And I wholeheartedly agree. And that’s my point of view.