Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

A local nonprofit releases new data on bail conditions in Memphis courthouses

By meerna Jun12,2024

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Bail in Shelby County is an issue covered extensively by WREG. One nonprofit, Memphis Crime Beat, has published its own findings on setting bail in courts.

“We have a data analytics team, we have several engineers on it – including one of me,” said Leslie Taylor, president and executive director of Memphis Crime Beat. “We also have a data analyst with 30 years of experience.”

Back in March, the WREG investigative team talked about this group as we sat with them observing Shelby County courtrooms.

Taylor said about 20 people do this every day.

“It is very difficult for the public to know who posts bail in Shelby County. Sometimes a code is used on the court commissioner’s side and not a name on the judge’s side, and the public does not have the key to the code. So we cannot say which court commissioner or judge sets the initial bail,” Taylor said. “Based on our findings, we believe that people behave differently depending on how they are identified. Therefore, the people who reduce the bond the most are those who are not identified in the database. The ones that reduce the least are the ones marked with the code I mentioned.

They say the purpose of their data is accountability.

“We want people to be responsible for the decisions that may be made, regardless of how they came up with the idea. There is bail, there is no bail, there is reduced bail and these are issues that need to be addressed for the sake of public safety,” said Norman Blake, vice president of Memphis Crime Beat.

“These people work for us. These are officials elected or appointed by elected officials, and we all know that we have managers who work for a reason. These people are watching us perform and making sure we’re doing a good job, right,” Taylor said. “If we don’t pay attention to the kind of work our local leaders are doing, what outcome do we expect? So our elected leaders are only as good as we make them.”

A Memphis police spokesman said the group has the support of interim Police Chief C.J. Davis.

By meerna

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