It is at a lost for words to see what is going on now at Shelby County Juvenile Court.  Juvenile crimes are being committed and there is pretty much no punishment for these acts.  Back in the golden age of policing when crimes were being punished, capital punishment and God was in schools, society was different. The day when the next door neighbor could discipline the neighborhood kids. Like the old African proverb go, “it takes a whole village to raise a child”. These values that were in place back then have left the building in the society that we live in today. Anyone living within the past thirty to forty years no that the face of society has changed as far as morals and beliefs. Children aren’t being children anymore they are being introduced to grown up things and they are growing up very fast. That innocent age of childhood doesn’t seem to be there. Crime is on the uprise despite what politicians are saying to get re-elected. Most of these crimes are being committed by our youth.

     Crime shows no gender or racial boundaries. I have heard police officers, who work mostly in the outskirts of the city in surburban areas, say that a lot of times they turn the misguided youths over to their well known, wealthy parents just to keep them out the justice system. This practice has been going on for many years and I think it is still going on in some surburban areas today. What do these kinds of practices teach our youth committing acts of crime? I recall ten years ago or more that the juvenile justice system was very different. If a child became unruly with a parent an officer could take the child to juvenile court detention. When I say unruly I mean if the child didn’t want to make his/her bed up that child could be taken to juvenile detention. Do I think it helped? Sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t. The majority of the kids that could be reached were helped and I seen a lot of kids that were going in the wrong direction steer from a road of destruction. If a child ran away from home because he/she didn’t want to listen to their parents that child could be held in juvenile detention. Over the years Juvenile court began to relax this level of punishment. Juvenile court stopped accepting kids for disorderly conduct and unruly behavior. The officer was advised by the courts to advise the parents that they must come to juvenile court to fill out an unruly child petition. Juvenile court then stopped accepting runaways. The run away children would have to be returned back home, instead of juvenile detention, where they had originally ran away from. Many times when the officer would return the child back home, the officer would be right back at the house taking another run away report. Thefts, vandalisms, or any crime against property that a child might commit was punished with a stay in juvenile detention. The court system has determined that now the adolescent crimes against property are no longer detention punishable offenses. Now, the child who is caught for violating a property crime is let off with a citation and released to the custody of a parent or guardian. Years ago a juvenile arrest didn’t require an affidavit of complaint, which is basically a charging document to put a person who is responsible for a crime in jail. Now, all juvenile arrest must be accompanied by an affidavit of complaint. Children responsible for committing crimes seem to be given more and more rights by the day. In the article, ‘Fewer violent minors in court’, (Memphis Commercial Appeal, Sept. 18, 2011), it stated that there were 786 minors charged with major offenses. They say that this number has dropped to 694. The year is not over with yet and looking at it is getting closer to the holidays, I’m sure that the juvenile court system will reach its’ major crimes committed by juveniles quota. One judge stated tha they nare issuing out grown people time which is making a difference, but looking at the numbers from last year to this year is not that much of a difference.

     Something has to give way within the juvenile court system to save the future of our youth. Whether it is stiffening the laws of repeat offenders and major crime violators or going back to a grass root movement of taking an entire community to raise productive citizens within our society.

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