A county budget squeeze may require reducing detention center beds in Memphis by more than 50 percent and encouraging police to bring in only violent offenders, reports the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Judge Curtis Person said budget officials told him that overtime for detention center officers must be reduced, which likely will mean limiting beds available for juvenile offenders to about 60, down from 135.
Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin said the idea of issuing more summonses to juveniles may not be easy. “Currently, before an officer can issue a juvenile summons, the parent or guardian must be present,” he said. “Without a parent or guardian present when an officer detains and summons a juvenile for a crime, a custody issue arises.” The juvenile court’s budget this year is $14.8 million, 90 percent of which is from the county. For the first seven months of the current fiscal year, the court has incurred about $40,000 in overtime costs for operation of the detention center. This past year police transported 7,532 juveniles to the court, though some 90 percent were released within 24 hours. A hiring freeze has left seven of detention officer spots open, requiring overtime to keep the national standards ratio of officers to juvenile detainees at one to eight in the day and one to 12 at night.