A court judge used policies to jail and detain kids without sufficient cause, a probe found.
A county settled an $11 million suit after lawyers alleged the policy departed from Tennessee law.
The policy has ended, and Donna Scott Davenport remains judge at Rutherford County Juvenile Court.
A Tennessee juvenile-court judge orchestrated a system to arrest and jail children, many of whom were Black and some who were as young as 8 and 9 years old, an investigation by ProPublica and Nashville Public Radio found.
The report, published on October 8, said juvenile-court Judge Donna Scott Davenport of Rutherford County created a “process” that involved arresting children, taking them into custody at a detention center, and then filing charges against them.
This differed from the norm in Tennessee, where police would typically serve court summonses to children and their parents instead of arresting children and taking them into custody, the investigation found.
Davenport declined an interview with ProPublica and did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. Representatives from Rutherford County and from the state judicial system also did not respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
Under Davenport’s system, in 2016, 11 Black children were arrested and 10 were charged with “criminal responsibility for conduct of another” after they were said to have failed to stop a fight that was captured on video. But the attorney who represented some of the children said “criminal responsibility for conduct of another” is not a charge under Tennessee law.
Rather, it’s a prosecutorial theory, the attorney Frank Ross Brazil told ABC News.
“So, that being applied as a charge in and of itself is unlawful,” said Brazil, who did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment on Sunday.
Davenport cultivated a public profile as a disciplinarian, discussing her work in interviews and on her monthly segment on WGNS radio. She even referred to herself as the “mother of the county,” the joint investigation found.
#systemicracism #donnascottdavenport #police
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