Juvenile court program launches in Hamilton Co. - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

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Juvenile court program launches in Hamilton Co.

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A student run juvenile court program launched over the weekend in Hamilton County.

First time offenders will have the opportunity to have their case tried in front of peers their own age.

Community members and their children watched a handful of mock trials Sunday to help them learn about the nationally known, peer driven Restorative Youth Justice Program.

It's designed to give kids who have made a bad decision  a second chance to get their life back on track.

Members from the Tennessee Bar Association, Judge Robert Philyaw, and the local law firm, Miller and Martin, helped launch this program in Chattanooga after seeing how successful the initiative has been in 16 other courts throughout Tennessee.

"The punishment is intended to be from a restorative standpoint to help them from doing other bad things at so they learn from what they have done," says Randy Wilson with Miller and Martin PLLC.

Before entering the court room, the  defendant will have already pleaded guilty. Then that non-violent, first time offender will stand before a jury panel of kids their own age who will then decide the punishment.

"I think it is a very effective program from what I've seen so far from hearing about other programs across the country too. It's a great stepping stone," says10th grader Jadarius Cameron.

Cameron says this program will help give him an early look at the legal profession, something he may pursue down the line, while also learning from others' mistakes.

"It's taught me many valuable lessons: like not to get in trouble."

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