Shelby County DA candidates discuss juveniles committing violent crimes

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On Thursday, the community gathered at Metropolitan Baptist Church for one of the last forums for the Shelby County District Attorney candidates.

The death of beloved Reverend Autura Eason-Williams, who was shot killed in her driveway on Monday, was at the front of everyone’s mind.

With a 15-year-old currently charged with the murder, District Attorney Amy Weirich announced Thursday that she wants to charge this teen as an adult, citing his criminal record and the facts of this case.

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Community members who attended the forum said they had questions about some of the current and future decisions being made.

“We’re really interested in how effective we will be in the future in terms of handling young black and brown individuals in our court system,” said Jarous Winfrey.

“We’re at the point now we can’t just entertain lip service. We have to see some action, see some plausible plans, and not just tell us crime is up. We can see crime is up, Chicken Little can see crime is up, we wanna see solutions,” said Noel Hutchinson.

There were mixed feelings when asked about Weirich’s announcement to charge the teen as an adult.

“Poor guidance in your youth should have an opportunity for repentance and turn around, and right now, it doesn’t appear that will be the case for him at all,” said Winfrey.

Hutchinson said, “It also depends on who you kill because the average citizen is losing family members the same way, and nothing is being done about it. Either you gonna try to fix the problem and just go ahead and charge everybody as an adult because you’re not fixing it.”

When asked about juvenile cases transferred to adult courts, these were the responses from the two candidates:

Amy Weirich said, “We have too many children in this community, too many juveniles in this community committing violent crimes. The policy in the DA’s office is to look at the age of the offender, like the law says, to look at the facts of the case – what are they charged with? Can we prove what they’re charged with, or is this the wrong charge? Is it a bad case? What are the facts? Has this juvenile been in the system before? Have we tried everything at our disposal to get this young person on the right path?”

Steve Mulroy said, “Data shows that when you take a child, transfer them to an adult prison, not only are they at heightened risk for sexual assault, suicide, but they’re actually more likely to re-offend when they come out. We’re essentially sending them to crime college. That’s not making us safer, and it’s not protecting the victims. Are there times when we have no choice to take somebody that’s incorrigible and transfer them to adult court? Yes, but it should be a last resort, not a first instinct.”