Pictured from left to right are Lt. Billy Caywood, Jervie Petty, Browyn Chrisholm, Sharon Turman-Hall, Chapter President Vanessa Caldwell, Sheriff Rex W.Coffey, Wanda Hamilton, Elzora Trimmer, Theressa Green, Clara Robinson and Maryellen Kraese.
LA PLATA, Md. - Members of the Delta Sigma Sorority, Inc., Fort Washington Alumnae Chapter (FWAC) visited with representatives of the Charles County Sheriffs Offices Teen Court program on Feb. 8 and pledged to support the youth justice initiative.
Teen Court is a joint effort between the Sheriffs Office, Charles County district and circuit courts, the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, the Charles County States Attorneys Office and Charles County Public Schools. It provides first time youth offenders with an opportunity to accept responsibility for traffic offenses and misdemeanor crimes without the stigma of a formal criminal record. Now in its sixth year, the program has successfully diverted more than 850 juveniles from the formal criminal justice system.
As supporters of Teen Court, members of the sorority will serve as jury monitors in the courtrooms when Teen Court is in session. Other volunteering opportunities for the organization include assisting the Teen Court office in processing cases.
During the Teen Court process, a youth offender is represented by teen defense attorneys, prosecuted by teen prosecutors and sentenced by teen jurors. A community volunteer, who is generally in the legal profession, serves as a judge overseeing the proceedings. Some of the sentenced for the youth offenders include community service, serving as a Teen Court juror, writing letters of apology and essays, participating in ride-alongs on ambulances, and serving a term of informal probation in which the offender regularly meets with the Sheriffs officer assigned to his or her school.
Teen Court helps youth better resolve problems with peers, reduces recidivism and provides information about how the criminal justice system functions. Since its inception in March 2001, the program has provided more than 31,200 hours of volunteering opportunities for teens and adults.
FWAC began with an idea to form a chapter dedicated to the Christian principles upon which the sorority was founded, according to its Web site, www.dstfwac.org. Since its inception, the sorors of FWAC have sponsored numerous programs in support of Deltas mission. The sorority is based in Fort Washington, Md., and provides services to Southern Prince Georges and Charles counties. More than 100 committed sorors work collectively to enhance the service area, the web site said.
For information about Teen Court, including volunteer opportunities, call Teen Court Coordinator Maryellen Kraese at 301-609-3916 or visit the Charles County Sheriffs Offices Web site at www.ccso.us.