Youth court expansion proposed for Philly schools

Philadelphia City Council is trying to find the money to expand a peer court to every part of the city.

Despite a tight budget, Councilman Curtis Jones says he wants a youth court established as part of the city school system. He envisions a public-private partnership.

“We’re facing some tough budgetary times, we are looking for the quarters hidden in the couch to pay for the dollars that we do not have.” said Jones. “The truant today, the malcontent in class today, becomes the defendant … later in life and becomes of the ex-offender that we have to deal with for a whole plethora of social costs.”

Family Court Administrative Judge Kevin Dougherty says the school-based courts could help keep youth out of his court.

“I believe teen court should be used as a diversion,” Dougherty said. “It should be utilized to circumvent those summary offenses from entering the municipal court.  It should be applied for those misdemeanor type offenses.”

Only about a half dozen city schools have the courts. Money for expanding the program has not been identified.

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