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Creating a path forward to reduce juvenile crime in Memphis | Opinion

n February, Memphis Police Chief C.J. Davis addressed the city council and told the story of an 11-year-old boy who had been arrested nine times and amassed 19 charges including multiple robbery, carjacking, and weapons charges. While this child may be particularly young, he is representative of a major issue facing Memphis – an increase in juvenile crime. 

In November of last year, the Memphis Shelby County Crime Commission issued a report that found a 42% increase in juvenile arrestees and concluded that in 2022 juveniles were charged with 151 aggravated assault charges, 124 carjacking charges, and 96 aggravated robberies. Memphis is not alone in this kind of surge, though. After decades of decline, serious juvenile violence began dramatically increasing in 2020. 

Juvenile offending, like adult criminality, concentrates among a very small number of offenders. These juveniles are typically either associated with or being recruited into street gangs and often pressured by adults to commit serious violent offenses.  

Thankfully, there are well-documented ways to reduce that kind of offending. Look to Louisville, Kentucky for a recent example of solutions.  

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