January 24, 2007

Teen Court helps youth offenders

Left to right, standing: Lisa Bauer, Ira Goldstein, Sherwood Hanford, and sitting (l-r):Tamara Stanley, Karol Cotton.

Teen Court, and the Juvenile Programs Division of the Sheriff's Office, is a little known but very important part of the criminal justice system. These programs are designed to intercept juvenile criminal offenders before they become burdened by a criminal record which could negatively affect their whole lives. The program attempts to steer them back on the right path by teaching them about the consequences of their actions and giving them a chance to atone for their crimes.

In 2006, the Sheriff’s Teen Court program successfully closed 135 cases, almost a ninety percent rate of success for teens entering this nationally acclaimed diversion program. Teen Court is based on the premise that youthful offenders will more readily accept responsibility for their actions when judged by their peers. The offenders are referred to the program when law enforcement officers issue them juvenile citations for minor offenses, by a referral from the State Attorney’s Office or from the Department of Juvenile Justice.  If the offender is judged to be eligible for the program, he or she must admit guilt and accept responsibility in order.  Once accepted, members of the Teen Court - a court comprised of juvenile peers who volunteer their time - decide on the consequences of the offense, including community service, serving as a juror on other student’s cases, written essays, jail tours, apologies to their victims and /or their parents, counseling, drug screening, and, restitution.

The youthful offenders usually have thirty to ninety days to  successfully complete all of the sanctions handed down by their peers. If the youth completes the program, charges are dropped.  If the youth fails to complete the sanctions, the case is referred back to the court system for prosecution.

Another aspect of the program is the opportunity for young volunteers to receive training and act as defense and prosecuting attorneys, bailiffs, clerks and judges. During 2006, 56 student volunteers donated 451 hours of service to the Teen Court program.  Teen court recognized Julie Russell, Eveling Darce, Amanda Meehan, Uriel Galvez, Jace Thompson and Angelica Valdez as outstanding volunteers in Key West and Mileidys Aguila, Andrew Van Sickle, Jack, Amos, Bonnie Casey and Anelis Cherubini as outstanding volunteers in Plantation Key.

The Sheriff’s Office took over the Teen Court program in 2001 and it is operated Keys-wide with teen courts meeting in Plantation Key, Marathon and Key West.  Teen Court case managers, Tamara Stanley and Karol Cotton, supervise all aspects of the program. Teen Court also relies on local attorneys who volunteer their time to serve as Judges and other adult volunteers who serve the program in various capacities.

For more information, contact Teen Court at 292-7031 or the Sheriff’s Community Relations Division at 292-7116.

January 23, 2007

Sheriff's Animal Farm open this Sunday

The Sheriff's Office Animal Farm will be open to the public this Sunday, January 28, 2007, between the hours of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Everyone is welcome to visit, free of charge, and see the wide variety of animals at the park, including tropical birds, snakes, ferrets, rabbits, horses, ponies, a llama, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, an 100 pound tortoise and more. 

The Children's Animal Farm is located at the Stock Island Detention Center, just off of College Road. It is open to the public on the second and fourth Sunday of every month. Groups may make special arrangements to visit the farm as well. Call the Sheriff's Office Detention Center at 305-293-7300 to schedule a visit.

January 19, 2007

Bicycle Safety Rodeo - Key Largo

The Monroe County Sheriff's Office and Key Largo Elementary School are hosting a Bicycle Safety Rodeo on Saturday, January 27, 2007 from 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. at Key Largo Elementary School.

There are a number of activities planned, including bicycle safety courses, the Sheriff's office bicycle registration program, a bike safety puppet show, bicycle helmet fittings if needed and there will be a skate board rodeo for the mid-school students. Best of all, it is free of charge!

Publix Supermarket and Kmart of Key Largo have donated their resources to help make it a great success. If the public has any questions, they can contact Anita Yuhasz at Key Largo School 453-1255 xt 317 or Sgt. David Carey at 853-3211 or dcarey@keysso.net.

January 11, 2007

Sheriff's Animal Farm open this Sunday

The Sheriff's Office Animal Farm will be open to the public this Sunday, January 14, 2007, between the hours of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Everyone is welcome to visit, free of charge, and see the wide variety of animals at the park, including tropical birds, snakes, ferrets, rabbits, horses, ponies, a llama, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, an 100 pound tortoise and more. 

The Children's Animal Farm is located at the Stock Island Detention Center, just off of College Road. It is open to the public on the second and fourth Sunday of every month. Groups may make special arrangements to visit the farm as well. Call the Sheriff's Office Detention Center at 305-293-7300 to schedule a visit.

January 5, 2007

Local Law Enforcement agencies are requesting that you show your support for the Soldier Ride.

The Soldier Ride is coming to the Keys Friday January 12 and Saturday January 13th and now is your chance to show your support for our returning wounded soldiers. We hope that many citizens will come out to cheer the bike riders on as they pass by the various scheduled ride locations throughout the Keys.

This is a cross-country cycling event to aid in the rehabilitation of the brave men and women who return home with injuries incurred in the current military conflicts abroad.  Participation in the cycling events by wounded soldiers provides a foundation for the development of a positive self-image and outlook on life, which speeds the rehabilitation and recovery process.

The theme of the 2006 cross-country ride is “America Still Remembers.” As the wounded service members participating in the ride cycle from city to city, they aim to show other wounded servicemen and women that the country is still behind those who have sacrificed life or limb in support of our freedom. With the number of wounded at 18,000 and growing, the need for continued commitment, support and remembrance is clear. Join us in showing our heroes that America remembers their service and their sacrifice.

The Soldier Ride began as a cross-country bicycle ride in 2004 by Chris Carney, who bicycled across America to raise public awareness and support for injured service men and women recovering in military hospitals throughout the country.  Other severely wounded soldiers, who were inspired to help and support their fellow injured soldiers, joined Chris along the route and are now part of the cross-country bicycle ride.

Local agencies will be providing a procession and escort for the soldiers along the Keys. 

On Friday January 12, 2007 the procession will start at 12 noon from Coral Shores High School in Islamorada along the old road and continue on to Holiday Isle where the soldiers will stop for lunch.

They will continue through Marathon around 3:30 p.m. riding from the 58 mile marker to the south end of 7 Mile Bridge. 

On Saturday January 13, 2007 the soldier’s will be riding into Key West, beginning from Boca Chica Naval Air Station at 10:00 a.m. There will be a procession through old town and continue to the Truman Annex.