published Thursday, April 4th, 2013

Hamilton County judge candidates outline goals for Juvenile Court

   
Hamilton County Juvenile Court
Hamilton County Juvenile Court
Staff Photo by David Barry

Depending on who Hamilton County commissioners appoint to be the next Juvenile Court judge, parents of truant children may see jail time, court may be held on Saturdays and reformed youths may determe punishments for new young offenders.

Those were but a few suggestions commissioners heard Wednesday during public interviews of five of the 10 candidates seeking to replace Juvenile Judge Suzanne Bailey.

Bailey announced in February she would retire April 30. Commissioners plan to name her replacement next Thursday .

Candidates Curtis Bowe, Lisa Bowman, former County Commissioner John Allen Brooks, Blair Cannon and former Magistrate Bob Davis spoke Wednesday.

Starting at 9:30 a.m. today, candidates Christy Jindra, Juvenile Magistrate Troy McDougal, Rob Philyaw, Ron Powers and Rachel Wright will make their cases for the judgeship.

Commissioners questioned all interviewees about their stances on juvenile delinquent recidivism, bringing the court to the digital age and their personal involvement with troubled youths.

Bowe told commissioners one of the main drivers of delinquent recidivism is a lack of consequences for youths who break the law.

When juveniles repeatedly go to court for the same offenses and are let off, they have no incentive to change their behavior, he said.

Brooks and Davis shared Bowe's stance on firm, consistent punishments for youthful offenders.

"My dad told me there are two ways to learn. One's through your head, and one's through your butt," Brooks said.

Brooks also said parents should be held accountable for their children's bad behavior. If appointed, he said he would hold court on Saturday morning for children who were truant from school.

"If parents are properly served and they don't show, give them a night in jail," Brooks said.

Other candidates, such as Bowman and Cannon, had other suggestions for dealing with at-risk youths.

"If you put a child in a detention [center], he's going to learn how to be a better little criminal," Bowman told commissioners.

She suggested focusing more on rehabilitation programs to keep juveniles out of the incarceration system.

Cannon shared with commissioners a plan to enact a "youth court," wherein juveniles in good standing would hold a mock court for their peers who break the law. Other youths would determine punishments and provide "positive peer pressure," Cannon said.

The person appointed to Bailey's post will serve the remainder of her term, which ends August 2014. He or she will have to run for the office to keep the post for another eight years.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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