Renewed push to stop juvenile offenders from committing crimes as adults

Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 9:56 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - As many as 600 kids in Shelby County are on track to commit violent crimes by the end of the year according to the Memphis Shelby Crime Commission.

“As you all know once a juvenile reaches his or her 19 birthday, they’re cut loose. That’s it. There’s no further supervision,” said Gibbons.

Bill Gibbons with the Memphis-Shelby County Commission testified Thursday morning before a legislative committee in Nashville where the former prosecutor told lawmakers hundreds of juveniles will file through the criminal justice system this year alone and most will re-offend.

Like the man accused of kidnapping and killing Memphis mom Eliza Fletcher while on a morning jog last month.

Cleotha Abston Henderson first entered the system at 11 years old.

The high-profile nature of the current case against him is part of the reason why legislators called this meeting.

“I hope that you will consider legislation that would extend the ability to supervise that juvenile either in a secure facility or in the community beyond the 19th birthday,” said Gibbons.

Gibbons asked legislators to consider building one or more new facilities for violent juvenile offenders.

According to the Memphis-Shelby Crime Commission, the number of violent incidents involving guns in Shelby County has nearly doubled in the past 10 years.

And while Gibbons praised legislators for passing the Truth in Sentencing law, Gibbons says there is a loophole regarding aggravated assaults.

It’s a charge that is still covered by probation, therefore some offenders may never see actual jail time.

“I hope you would take a look at closing that loophole in terms of aggravated assault that involve the actual discharge of a firearm or serious bodily injury,” said Gibbons.

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