JANS – An aspiring chef, an artistic entrepreneur, and a recent high school graduate were among the teens recognized last month during Family Day at the Hinds County Youth Intervention Court.
“There is nothing that you can’t achieve in life,” Hinds Circuit Court Judge Winston Kidd told participants, their families, and guests.
May is National Drug Court Month. The Hinds County Youth Intervention Court focuses on helping young people who have landed in Youth Court as a result of issues related to drugs and alcohol. Participants celebrated with a DJ, a mobile video arcade, and food at the Hinds County Youth Court on McDowell Road. Five of the seven teens enrolled in the Youth Intervention Court program attended with family members.
Youth Court Judge Carlyn Hicks, who supervises the Intervention Court program, said, “We’ve seen some significant strides made” with program participants.
The program theme was “Telling our Stories.” Judge Hicks recognized the aspiring chef, the artist, and the recent graduate. A t-shirt designed by the teen artist was on display in the courtroom. Judge Hicks said the creator was also an entrepreneur. He sold the shirt to her, and he now has a local shop wanting to feature some of his work. The graduate expects to work as a lifeguard this summer.
Judge Kidd, the guest speaker, told the participants, “You have a wealth of opportunities lying right down in front of you… Anything you want to be – teacher, engineer, doctor, lawyer, even a judge – there is somebody out there who can steer you in the right direction.”
The Interdisciplinary Alcohol and Drug Studies Center at Jackson State University, in conjunction with the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety, provided a short safe driving lesson on the eve of the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
Keith McMillian provided a demonstration of what alcohol impairment feels like, without anyone taking a drink. Two teens and Judge Kidd put on glasses which simulate the balance problems and disorientation associated with alcohol impairment. They struggled to walk a straight line while wearing the glasses.
Judge Hicks said she tried on the glasses when McMillian visited the court earlier in the week. “It was a really good learning experience for me,” she said. And she also noted that she didn’t want to repeat the experience.
Judge Kidd said, “It is so very easy to get into trouble, and it is so difficult to get out of trouble.”
Judge Kidd also warned that, although all of them were under the jurisdiction of the Youth Court, young age won’t shield anyone who commits an adult crime of violence.
“Let’s dispel the myth,” he said. “I’ve had to deal with individuals as young as 13 or 14. When young people commit adult crimes, crimes of violence, you are charged as an adult and you are prosecuted as an adult. Those are some of the most difficult cases that I have to deal with.”
He commended the group for staying out of trouble. “Mistakes happen, but let’s not let those mistakes define our future,” he said.