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Lynchburg, VA - It's the first
program of its kind in Virginia and it's right here in Lynchburg. The
Community Court Program started in January as a way to address lesser crimes
and get the defendant back on the right track.
The Commonwealth's Attorney's Office discussed the program at a luncheon
Monday. Here's how it works. 13 to 25-year-olds who commit a NON-VIOLENT
misdemeanor appear before a judge and plead guilty. Rather than spending
time in jail or paying a fine, they perform at least 40 hours of community
or social services. After that, the charges are dropped.
Shannon Hadeed, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney - "Every time they do a
social or a community service they're going to be thinking about the fact
that they committed this crime and we make the range in which they have to
complete this sentence a maximum of three months."
Chris Watler, Center for Court Innovation - "If jail worked we wouldn't be
here. The fact of the matter is people go to jail all the time, it doesn't
have an impact on their behavior."
Tuesday, seven out of eight juveniles will graduate from the program. There
are several non-violent offenses that do not apply to this program. The
non-violent misdemeanors that do not apply to the Community Court Program
are Stalking, Sex Offenses, DUI, Speeding, Possession of Marijuana with the
Intent to Distribute, Domestic Assault and Battery.
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