Tuesday, March 06, 2001

Program to add court for juveniles

By Allen Howard
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ANDERSON TWP. — A Community Juvenile Court program will open here April 2 with hearings conducted in the township Government Center building, 7954 Beechmont Ave.

        The court will be staffed by a magistrate, a case manager, a probation officer and a security officer. Hearings will be conducted from 6 to 8 p.m. on the first and third Mondays.

        The purpose is to get the community and parents more involved in solving juvenile problems, said Jim Ray, administrator for Hamilton County Juvenile Court.

        He said the community court proceedings will be plugged into the county court system downtown and will handle minor juvenile offenses, such as truancy, assault and unruly behavior.

        More serious offenses, where a juvenile has been put in jail, will still be handled downtown.

        Michael Walton, Hamilton County court administrator and township trustee, said the program has several advantages.

        “With it being at night and in the community, we have a better chance of getting one or both parents at the hear ing,” Mr. Walton said. “Experts in this field think we have a better chance at reaching the child in trouble if both parents are present.”

        Mr. Walton said the program will be a cost saving for the township because it is free except for the salary of the officer involved.

        “That cost will be cut also because the officer in the cases will not have to go downtown, eliminating travel expenses and spending less time on the cases,” he said.

        Because most cases will deal with truancy and minor school problems, an advantage in some communities has been an improvement in attendance, such as at Oyler School in Lower Price Hill.

        Craig Hockenberry, assistant principal at Oyler, said that without the program, the truancy rate would probably be around 10 percent.

        He said attendance has increased from about 90 percent to 93 percent since the program started three years ago.

        The program is funded through a $350,000 federal grant administered through Ohio's Office of Criminal Justice Services.

        Mr. Ray said similar programs exist in Lockland, Sharonville and Arlington Heights.


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