United States Department of Justice Appoints Michael Leiber as Special Monitor

Michael J. Leiber, PhD.Michael J. Leiber, Ph.D., a Professor and Department Chair in the CBCS Department of Criminology has been appointed by the United States Department of Justice to be a Monitor of the Shelby County Tennessee juvenile justice system. This is part of a comprehensive memorandum of agreement with the Juvenile Court of Memphis and Shelby County to address problems such as the disparate treatment of black youths, a high number of youths transferred to adult court and jailed while awaiting hearings, and due-process rights violations.

According to the Department of Justice, the agreement is the first time that the department has used its authority under the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 to address constitutional violations within a juvenile justice system.

“This unprecedented agreement represents a collaborative effort to ensure that all children in Shelby County, Tennessee receive the full protections provided under our constitution,” said Edward L. Stanton III, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee. “These reforms are designed to establish a pre-eminent juvenile court for Shelby County and will ultimately serve as a model for juvenile courts systems across the country.”

The creation of a community oversight group and the appointment of outside monitors to ensure compliance are included as part of the agreements' proposed reforms. Dr. Leiber's appointment as an outside monitor will involve working with several individuals to oversee how Memphis addresses its high number of black youths in the justice system and ensures equal protection for all youth referred to juvenile court.

Dr. Leiber's main research interests and publications lie in juvenile delinquency, juvenile justice, and race/ethnicity. Over the last twenty years, he has worked with the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention as a consultant dealing with the overrepresentation of minority youth in the juvenile justice system. In 2008, he received the W.E.B. Du Bois award for significant contributions to the field of racial and ethnic issues in criminology from the Western Society of Criminology.