My name is Lonnell Matthews, Jr. and I’m your choice for Davidson County Juvenile Court Clerk in 2018. I am a native Nashvillian, born and raised, and my story is a tale of two brothers. My younger brother and I, born 4 years apart, followed the same path in life for most of our lives. We were born to the same parents, in a two parent household. We were raised to pursue the American Dream, that we could live a more prosperous life than the parents we were born to. We grew up in the same church. We both attended MLK Magnet High, graduating with Honors, and we both attended Tennessee State University. It is at this point that our lives seemed to take very different turns.
For me, the older brother, it was the best of times. I went on to finish at TSU, have a 15 year career as an executive in youth development at the YMCA and serve 8 years on the Metro Council representing District 1. On the Council I served as President of the Black Caucus, Education Committee Chair and Budget & Finance Chair. Now I direct the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhoods and Community Engagement.
For my younger brother, Firi, it was the worst of times. He never got to finish at TSU; ended up entangled in the criminal justice system; and had his life cut short at the age of 22 to gun violence. The person that shot my brother was a 17-year old boy that should have never had access to a gun in the first place!
I am sure there were a lot of factors that led to the very different outcomes that my brother and I experienced. My parents did the best job they could raising us, and we were very well educated. However at some point, the breakdown of “the village” allowed my brother to become a statistic, and the young person that took his life to fall through the cracks. The system failed my brother.
Well it is about time, that we changed the system, and that’s why I am running for Juvenile Court Clerk!
I’m running for Juvenile Court Clerk because we need a Juvenile Court that practices Restorative Justice. That means that we change the traditional crime & punishment philosophy, because we cannot expect to just arrest our way out of the problem. We have to embrace the philosophy of restoring the harm done whenever a crime is committed, by addressing the trauma experienced by both the victim and the responsible youth.
I am running because we need a Juvenile Court Clerk that will use data and information to create evidence based strategies to improve the lives of young people.
I am running for Juvenile Court Clerk to be a policy advocate for ending the school to prison pipeline and disproportionate minority contact with the Juvenile Justice system.
Please help me Rebuild the Village by electing me in the May 1st Primary.