Young offenders in Dallas offered a second chance

Young offenders offered a second chance

DALLAS - Some young people who have been in legal trouble in the past are getting a second chance.

A program sponsored by Dallas County Juvenile Department called "A Day of Amnesty/Pardon" could help them get their lives back on track.

Shawnta Johnson is a tough parent. She says she has to be tough.

”I’m not their friend, I’m their mom,” Johnson explained.

The mother of four believes there are too many influences on the streets. She says she knows how vulnerable some youth can be.

”I have a brother that’s been in the juvenile system,” Johnson said.

Right now, there are thousands of children caught up in the juvenile justice system in Dallas County. Hundreds of them have active warrants our for their arrests.

The Dallas County Juvenile Department is offering youth who have misdemeanor warrants, ages 10 to 17, a chance to have those warrants removed. The court staff is hosting what they call a "Day of Amnesty," from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., September 10, at Southwest Center Mall.

”Sometimes, they’ll look over their shoulders. They are afraid. They know they have a warrant. We want to erase that warrant, and get them back to supervision with the juvenile department," Dr. Terry Smith, Executive Director of Dallas County Juvenile Department said. 

There are nearly 200 children across Dallas County eligible to have their warrants removed through this year’s "Amnesty Day" program.

”They are not going to be arrested,” Smith explained. “This isn’t a 'gotcha.' It’s not a hidden camera or anything else like that. Once they erase their warrant, then they are fine.”

Court staff members say they just want to get the kids back on track and into a supervision program.

”When a kid has a warrant out for their arrest, they are afraid to go to school. They are afraid to get a drivers license. Perhaps even to get a job. Perhaps even afraid to go home, because they are afraid they are going to be arrested," Durrand Hill, Chief Prosecutor of the Juvenile Division said.

A "Day of Amnesty" takes fear away from the youth and their families, according to Hill, and in some cases reduces the chances of ending up in jail.

”I think it’s pretty cool,” said Johnson. “I think it’s like a second chance for these kids.”

Johnson says she believes the program is also a way to get some children back on the right track to success.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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