Angered by the “Revolving door” at the Shelby County Jail, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland wrote a letter to key stakeholders in the local criminal justice system on Wednesday.
The letter was sent by Strickland to District Attorney Steve Mulroy as well as the judges of the Criminal Court and General Sessions Court in Shelby County, as well as the judicial commissioners designated by the county commission to establish bail in Shelby County.
The mayor echoed his old rallying cry, claiming that the justice system is ineffective and that criminals have nothing to fear. Strickland claimed the problem lies with the bond amounts and the severity of the punishments.”I’ve talked about quick justice and severe punishment,” Mayor Strickland told Action News 5. “That’s a deterrent.”
The mayor claims that a man drew a gun on a Memphis police officer and fired three rounds at him in July 2021, but the culprit was not jailed. In exchange for his guilty plea, the suspect will serve no jail time. Strickland urged the judges to “Ask you to have zero tolerance for gun crime,” in a letter they received. Please be as forthcoming and open as possible with the general public.
It is Mayor Strickland’s desire that all judgments and bail applications be made available online. In light of a new reform program introduced last month, the 14 judicial commissioners now take into account the defendant’s financial situation, as well as any danger they may provide to the community or the potential for them to abscond.
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A spokesperson for the Shelby County Attorney’s Office, Michael Burnett, explained that the office takes its time ”going through these processes, constitutional and statutory considerations,” because “they want to make sure that they get it right so that society is better, Shelby County is better as a result of this.”
The Shelby County Commission appoints judicial commissioners to assist the county’s elected judges with administrative duties. ”The job is stressful. It is high-paced,” Commissioner Britney Thornton told Action News 5 in February, “I feel the role is necessary and I hope the appointments we make are making an impact.”
The mayor claims that Memphis police officers have expressed frustration at having to repeatedly arrest the same suspects, but DA Mulroy disputes that there is a revolving door at 201 Poplar.
“Data from our own county suggests that it’s only a very, very tiny fraction of people who are released on bond who actually re-offend,” said Mulroy. “I see no reason why that should change going forward.”
The names of the judges and the magistrates are available on the Shelby County website, but the names of the judicial commissioners are not. Last month, Action News 5 inquired with the office of Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris about the possibility of updating the website to list the individuals responsible for setting bail.
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