Secrecy Shields Powerful Adults in Our Juvenile Justice Systems. Kids Showed Me What’s Really Happening.
The three years I spent working on “The Kids of Rutherford County” podcast taught me one thing: Tennessee’s punitive policies aren’t leaving children in the legal system better off.
The board is being put in place after a Nashville Public Radio/ProPublica investigation detailed how Tennessee's Rutherford County was jailing children at rates unmatched in the state.
Since 2000, Judge Donna Scott Davenport has overseen juvenile justice in Rutherford County. Following reporting from Nashville Public Radio and ProPublica, public outcry and a bill seeking to oust the judge, Davenport announced her retirement.
New Documents Prove Tennessee County Disproportionately Jails Black Children, and It’s Getting Worse
Newly obtained reports show that Black children in Rutherford County are locked up more than twice as often as population size would suggest. And as the rest of the country has made progress on racial disparities, the county has gotten far worse.
Government officials called Rutherford County’s juvenile justice system a “nightmare” that “boggles the mind.” They are demanding answers about why children were “unjustly searched, detained, charged, and imprisoned.”
In the days following a ProPublica and Nashville Public Radio report on juvenile justice in Rutherford County, the president of Middle Tennessee State University told staff Judge Donna Scott Davenport “is no longer affiliated with the University.”
Black Children Were Jailed for a Crime That Doesn’t Exist. Almost Nothing Happened to the Adults in Charge.
Judge Donna Scott Davenport oversees a juvenile justice system in Rutherford County, Tennessee, with a staggering history of jailing children. She said kids must face consequences, which rarely seem to apply to her or the other adults in charge.