Teen Graduates Lawrence County Juvenile Problem Solving Court

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WBIW.com on 6/21/2017

(BEDFORD) – Officials and community members honored a 17-year-old female who has worked hard to graduate Lawrence County Juvenile Problem Solving Court.

This young lady, known as S.T. to protect her identity, successfully completed the intensive requirements of the problem solving court in which she has been a participant for approximately fourteen months.

The Lawrence County Juvenile Problem Solving Court is a program under the auspices of the Lawrence Circuit Court, Juvenile Division and is the most intensive and most structured of the rehabilitative services available to juvenile offenders in Lawrence County without the Court removing the child from the community.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment,” says Juvenile Judge John Plummer III. “We open this ceremony to the public so they can get a glimpse of how the court works. This is for the kids that need us the most…they put themselves in situations where they made bad decisions.”

The Court appreciates community support for the troubled children of Lawrence County with whom it deals daily, and encourages the invitees’ attendance at graduation to observe a rare glimpse into the usually-confidential juvenile court proceedings, and to support the young lady who has successfully completed the rigorous requirements of the court.

This is the 12th graduation since the court began in 2011.

“More than 40 juveniles have entered the program, but many did not make it. This is a testimony to S.T.’s hard work,” Judge Plummer added.

There are three core principals – honesty, respect – hard work. The program has three phases, each lasing between 2 to 8 months depending on the circumstances and the youth’s progress.

Once the juvenile completes the program they are taken off probation and their criminal record is expunged.

“Their record is wiped away. Their record is sealed and I will then order all files destroyed,” Judge Plummer added.

Not only does the child have to meet the requirements of the court, but so do the parents. They must participate in the court’s orders which could include individual and family counseling and routine drug testing.

S.T was admitted into the program on April 21, 2016.

“She has had a few ups and downs but worked extremely hard since she first got in trouble in October 2015,” Judge Plummer added. “She was going down the wrong road and her relationship with her father was not there and [she] was failing in school.”

But that has all changed.

S.T. is now on the road to graduation and has made the honor roll, she is employed part-time and she and her father now have a strong relationship.

S.T addressed the full courtroom. She shared that she had started doing drugs at the age of 11. She also admitted to hating school, liking drugs and having no relationship with her father.

“The drugs took my mind off things, and furthered my addiction,” she added. “This experience has been life changing. It was not easy but worth it.”

She hopes to graduate with an honors degree and attend Ball State to become a psychologist.