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Court-ordered program puts teens on
in the August 14th, 2009, Lynchburg News & Advance
picks up trash
Avenue in Lynchburg
as part of
the Teen Clean court-ordered program.
By Carrie J. Sidener
Published: August 14, 2009
Jill Nance/The News & Advance
Empty beer bottles filled openings in a cinderblock wall on Amherst Street,
their caps trampled into the dirt.
Gretchen Hutt noticed the trash as she walked past, carrying an orange
“Isn’t that gross?” she asked a group of teens who were with her Thursday.
Then she told them to clean it up.
The teens, nearly a dozen in all, spent several hours gathering trash in the
Daniel’s Hill neighborhood as part of a court-ordered program called “Teen
Hutt, an assistant commonwealth’s attorney in Lynchburg, asked one girl in
the program for underage possession of alcohol if her drink was worth
picking up beer bottles that were someone else’s litter.
“This is torture,” came the reply.
The teenagers, Hutt and two other community court workers gathered trash and
cleaned up the yards around Miles Market, Bedford Avenue, Cabell Street,
Madison and Harrison streets.
Donna Nash, community prosecution coordinator, hopes the experience will
help the teens develop a sense of accountability and a feeling of giving
something meaningful back to their community.
That’s the point of the community court program — to take teenagers who have
gotten into legal trouble and address why they landed in court in the first
place, along with teaching them how to be productive members of their
If they successfully complete the program, their criminal record disappears
and the teens get a clean start.
Officials often administer creative punishments. One teen, for example, was
ordered to research and write an essay on how one punch could kill someone.
Others have talk to someone whose life has been destroyed by alcoholism.
Thursday, the task was picking up trash and brush along neighborhood streets
littered with cigarette butts and other garbage.
“It’s not just trash, not just about cleaning up, we want the neighbors to
come out and talk with the kids,” Nash said. “It’s a good community service
project for them to do and with them cleaning up, they may think twice about
Hutt said the exercise was about punishing the teens for their crimes, but
also about giving back to the community. They are out cleaning up rather
than being held in juvenile detention.
Hutt went to law school to work with juvenile offenders, but began
prosecuting adults until she decided to take over the community court
“The adult system is about punishment,” she said. “With juveniles we are
able to rehabilitate them. I believe strongly in the concept of accountably
for these kids. They live up to what people expect of them. We are giving
them a goal to rise up to.
“Instead of just punishment, we give them a sense of personal satisfaction.”