Justice Dept. seeks to reform juvenile system

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The U.S. Justice Department has reached an agreement to reform the Memphis and Shelby County juvenile justice system after a complaint filed several years ago alleged that African-American kids were being treated more harshly in the system.

The department announced Tuesday that it has entered into a comprehensive memorandum of agreement with the juvenile system to "resolve findings of serious and systemic failures" that violate children's due process and equal protection rights.

Earlier this year, the department said in a blistering report that black children are treated more harshly than their white counterparts in the Memphis and Shelby County juvenile justice system, but the system still routinely violates the rights of children of all races.

Officials say it is the first time that the Justice Department has investigated a juvenile court system and used its authority to address violations.

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