MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - We have the Liberty Bowl. Philadelphia has the Liberty Bell. Other than brotherly love, Memphis and Philly don't have much in common - except for crime. We've got plenty, they've got plenty, and Memphis Mayor A C Wharton wanted to know how they handle things. "I've been looking all over the nation," Wharton says, "…just to see what other cities are doing with the teenagers and guns."
They might not be old enough for a shot of whisky, but they know how to shoot a Glock. Mayor Wharton has mentioned in the past that people between the ages of 14 and 20 are the ones that are doing most of the killing. That's why he checked on the Philadelphia Experiment. "It focuses on what I've been wanting to do for years," he says. "If you're a criminal, and you're walking around the streets, when we take you off the streets, you'd best stay off the streets until your trial is done."
Mayor Wharton says in Memphis, the cops and the lawyers know who the bad kids are. They've seen them in courtrooms; they know their street reputations. The Philadelphia Experiment treats them differently. Even if they're arrested for minor crimes, judges will set an expensive bail, and everybody tries to keep them in jail and off the streets until they're hopefully convicted in court. "We've got some rotten people out there," Mayor Wharton says. "Since we know they're rotten folks walking around with guns, they shouldn't be treated the same way as shoplifters and other people."
It's the good, the bad, and the ugly of Memphis life. The kids can be bad, their crimes can be ugly, but the people trying to make things better are good. "Face it," the mayor says, "we don't have many people getting killed in Memphis with beer bottles and sticks and stones and pocket knives. They're getting killed by criminals with guns, and we know who they are. We know who they are."
Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich was with the mayor. When she returns, both will get together and hopefully come up with a plan by early next year.