By Ashley Benkarski
NASHVILLE, TN— Local attorney and former MNPS teacher Marcus Shute, Jr. is running for Division VI criminal court judge in Davidson County.
A product of Metro’s public school system (he was a student at Meigs and Hume-Fogg), Shute said he never left the community he grew up in, becoming the youngest teacher in Davidson County at just 22 years old.
A graduate of Tennessee State University where he majored in political science, Shute said he is passionate about Nashville and its ability to be a model for a working criminal justice system.
Throughout his time teaching Spanish and government, he’s made it a point to talk to kids in the community to keep them on the right track.
But Shute is also quick to note that, whether due to unconscious bias or otherwise, the law is not always applied fairly.
Shute pointed to the “Driving While Black” report conducted by Gideon’s Army in partnership with Vanderbilt University that highlighted over-policing in the community; the Brookings Institute found the 37208 zip code has the highest number of incarcerated individuals in the nation (14 percent).
As a Black man with locs Shute knows all too well the damage bias can do, but he also knows the impact challenging that bias publicly can have on others who look like him.
Shute believes the purpose of the criminal justice system should encompass accountability, deterrence and rehabilitation with a perspective of fairness, courage and integrity.
The punitive approach to crime, and especially the war on drugs, hasn’t been working as advertised, Shute remarked.
If elected to the bench, Shute said he’d take Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) reports into consideration when people from the 17-25 age demographic appear before him; recent studies have found that, on average, the brains of most people are not fully developed until age 25. ACEs are preventable but can have long-lasting or permanent effects on health, affecting not only themselves but their families and communities at large.
Having this knowledge is important to making decisions on the bench, Shute said.
Shute remarked that as a Nashville native he knows where Nashville has been, and he knows where it’s going; he added that although redistricting efforts have worried many residents, the progress achieved thus far will not disappear if people keep exercising their right to vote.
For more information on Marcus Shute, Jr.’s campaign visit shuteforjudge.com and @shuteforjudge on Instagram.