Savannah Police Chief Accuses Judge Of Hurting Crime Prevention Efforts
UPDATE July 7, 2017: Contrary to reports on social media, Judge Odell did not release Jerry Chambers Jr. after he was charged in the 2016 assault and attempted robbery outside the Savannah Mall.
According to District Attorney Meg Heap, that case was tried in juvenile court, where another judge found Chambers, then 16, not to be a delinquent, allowing his release. Chambers, now 17, faces three counts of felony murder in the July 5, 2017 shooting and fatal car crash in downtown Savannah.
Original story, April 2016:
Savannah has close to three times as many homicides so far this year compared to this same time in 2015.
The Savannah Metro Police department says cutting down on gun related crimes is a priority but the local court system is making it hard for them to do their jobs.
Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin said if convicted felons with guns aren’t kept behind bars, they will offend again.
He has accused Judge Harris Odell Jr. of allowing criminals to go free by issuing bonds in low amounts.
Lumpkin explained that despite police detaining “felons in possession of a firearm" on various occasions, the felons, after appearing before Odell Jr., would "receive a $7,000 bond or $8,000 bond. They got out the same day.”
Lumpkin said there is precedent for a U.S. magistrate judge to not grant bond to felons found in possession of illegal guns.
“We have to have our local government act in that manner also,” said Lumpkin.
“I think we need to make the streets safe, but we don’t need to violate a defendant’s constitutional rights to do that...I don’t accept the fact that every young black person is a criminal,” Judge Harris Odell told the Savannah Morning News.
He went on to say he is not a police officer.