ZAVALLA, TX (KTRE) - A new court program is on the horizon that judges hope can help with teen offenders.
A New teen drug court is set to start in September that would benefit students in Zavalla and Huntington ISD students that have Class C misdemeanors against them.
"Our hope is to prevent them from going to a bigger court," Municipal Judge Julie Alston said. "I think this is a great way for a real case to be heard by students who were trained in the positions that they hold but where a defendant who is in the position has a chance to really see what its like to be in court."
Alston said with the smaller crimes, if the students qualify, they can enter a guilty plea or a no contest plea and then a jury of teens will decide on community service. If the teen completes the program then the charge will be taken off of their record. The teens parents also have to agree to do the special court. The idea was first brought up by Huntington City administrator Bill Stewart to High school principal Shane Stover.
The Hope to give their teens a chance to learn from their mistakes.
"Students who may have got misdemeanors are able to have lesser type sentence," Stover said. "I thought this was a good thing for both Huntington and Zavalla."
Dozens of students have shown up for meetings with the organizers. The parents have also shown up to see how the program will work. Alston said several attorneys and other judges in the area have offered to help with the training as well.
"The state legislature came up with this unique way to handle these case," Alston said. "I think it really does work."
Alston will be joined by Angelina County Justice of the Peace Pat Grimes Walker who will offer her assistance to the program.
"It would be a good hands on experience if you become an attorney, some prosecutor, bailiff or maybe some attorneys," Walker said.
The court also only cost the teen defendants $20 compared to nearly $100 they would normally pay in court costs.
"One of the big points of school discipline is that discipline," Stover said. "Not just to hand out discipline but to discipline students. When you discipline a child you can teach that child why the actions they had have consequences."
Drug cases with teens will still be referred to juvenile probation where they could end up in County Judge Wes Suiter's teen court.