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Community Court Program Provides Alternatives

As Published on WSET.com, March 26th, 2007             http://new.wset.com/news/stories/0307/408792.html


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.

Copyright 2007 WSET, Inc.             
 

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