Mayor Strickland takes up Young Dolph murder, gun laws in weekly letter

Published: Jan. 8, 2022 at 8:46 PM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Mayor Jim Strickland is calling on the state to reform its gun laws. He said penalties are not strict enough, and used the murder of rapper Young Dolph as an example.

In his weekly letter to citizens, Memphis Mayor Strickland addressed the crime and pointed to state gun laws.

Police are offering a reward of $15,000 for information to the whereabouts of 23-year-old Justin Johnson. They say he’s wanted for the murder of Young Dolph.

But Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said Johnson should’ve never been able to commit the crime.

He writes Johnson was previously convicted of aggravated assault in 2017 and only served six months in prison.

“In the words of Yogi Berra, “it’s like déjà vu all over again”. I’m referring to our challenge with state laws governing sentencing for aggravated assaults. It’s a challenge because current law does not adequately punish gun crimes, and these aggravated assaults are the biggest drivers of our violent crime rate,” Strickland wrote.

“Over the last several months, I’ve written many times about the revolving door that has become our criminal justice system. As a reminder, current state law does not require any prison time for shooting a gun at another person, which is an aggravated assault,” he continued.

Criminal justice experts have said a rise in aggravated assaults is always alarming, but it can be even more so because often when people commit homicides it’s not their first time committing a violent crime.

In the first half of 2021, aggravated assaults went up 18 percent in Memphis and murder rose 19 percent according to the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission.

Memphis and Shelby County law enforcement officials have taken aim before at state gun laws. including laws allowing guns in cars and the open carry law.

Crime and gun laws are often centers of political campaigns. Action News 5 Political Analyst Mike Nelson expects rise in crime locally to be the center of the upcoming Shelby County District Attorney race where incumbent DA Amy Weirich will face one of three democrats. Linda Harris, Steve Mulroy and Janika White will first face off in a primary.

“[Weirich] will focus on law and order and fighting crime,” Nelson said. “Democrats tend to focus more on justice issues, equity issues.”

Strickland said local officials can only do so much. He wrote:

“It’s time to put a stop to these types of stories, but in order to do that, we need reforms at the state level.”

If you have any information that could lead to Johnson’s capture, you’re asked to call Crime Stoppers at 901-528-CASH.

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