Judge, attorney explain why teens were freed after Midtown carjacking

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A handful of kids accused of carjacking and evading arrest are now back on the streets.

On Tuesday, eight teenagers, including three 13-year-olds, were arrested for stealing cars in Midtown.

Memphis Police said it started at 8 a.m. Monday, when a Hyundai Tucson was stolen from Rembert Street, and then another accident happened on Madison Avenue a few hours later.

HELP: Three 13-year-olds are among eight people arrested for stealing cars in Midtown, police said

After the chase, they were all brought in, charged, and then released, according to juvenile court.

Juvenile Justice Tarik Sugarmon said, in an audio recording, that this can happen for a number of reasons.

He explained that once they are brought into the detention center, they use the Detention Alternative Tool, or DAT, to determine their detention. whether they are still detained or not.

“If the youth is below the score of 19, then they will be released,” said Sugarmon. “You look at the crimes, the prior contact with the courts, and the age of the person. If it is more than that, then they will be detained, and within 72 hours, that youth will appear before the judge. The Judge will look at the affidavit, this is the proof, and make a decision based on a reason that may arise whether or not the youth will be re-arrested or released.”

For criminal lawyer Andre Wharton, who also defends minors, he said that they are often released for non-violent crimes, such as theft or vandalism.

But there are times when they are stopped.

“Any crime against a person. So, you know, murder is obviously an obvious example. Burglary is burglary against property. But that is one of the specific crimes listed in the state law that regulates detention,” he said.

With 114 places in the youth detention center and a small number of staff, there are more juveniles who commit crimes than the center can handle.

So Wharton said that in some cases, judges and lawyers sometimes have to make the decision to send some of them home under strict supervision.

“They will look at the situation of the family. And maybe this is an example where they need ankle checks. They may need a GPS device. They can exclude the child from going to a specific location of the alleged victim, their home, or their place of work. So they may need a curfew,” he said.

Wharton said that some are not returning to their parents due to the condition of their family. “Most of the time, lawyers present a plan to the judge that includes a home security plan that says, look, my client is going to live with ‘Aunt Edy’ and Aunt Edy.” Edy will take care of him. But this is Aunt Edy. He has been in the village for 35 years and he took care of his younger brother, who is a high school student.

There was an 18-year-old in the group who was also released on his own recognizance.

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