The motto of Miami-Dade County Teen Court is “providing youth a second chance.”
For Tomas Korn, 17, that means so much. He has volunteered as a student youth defense and prosecuting attorney at the North Dade Justice Center for the past three years.
Teen Court allows some first-time youth offenders to be sanctioned by their peers instead of going to the juvenile justice system. Tomas said he has worked a lot with those who “need help on the consequences of disruptive behavior in order to turn around before taking the wrong road.”
“I think it is so important to build a person’s character on the basis of lessons learned from mistakes rather than shatter a person’s character because of mistakes they made,” Tomas said in email.
This summer, he organized Teen Court’s 18th anniversary to recognize the students and adults who make the program a success. The event was standing room only and seven County Court Judges participated, he said.
Tomas, who lives in Aventura, is a senior at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School. Student volunteers serve as bailiffs, clerks and jurors.
“As I was growing up, second chances were what I relied on, to not only survive but to thrive,” he said. “The concept of being human rather than a programmed machine is something that my parents imbued in me whenever I made mistakes. Society sometimes forces one to appear infallible, fixing a picture of someone with no consideration for their personal background or situation.”
He said when he examines the offenders on the stand it isn’t really a prosecution but “an opportunity to be indirectly educational, and help them think through their actions and listen to the small voice inside of all of us that tells us right from wrong.”
“Instead of going to the juvenile justice system, first-time youth offenders involved in such crimes as petty theft, disorderly conduct, trespassing or battery can be sanctioned in Teen Court run by high school students like me,” Tomas said. “Upon completing the sanctions required by Teen Court, the criminal records of youth offenders are wiped clean and a second chance is truly possible.”
Sanctions can include writing a letter of apology, attending anger management classes, serving as a juror in Teen Court, community service hours, or writing a 300-word essay on why their crime was wrong.
But perhaps the sanction of a taking a jail tour at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center in Northwest Miami-Dade is the most successful at highlighting the importance of getting a second chance.
“I can’t forget the inmates screaming at the visiting youth offenders that ‘Once you’re in, you’re never out!’” Tomas said. “I believe that this innovative program in juvenile justice, that has reduced the recidivism rate for Teen Court participants to less than two percent, could be a model for other jurisdictions to give their youth offenders a second chance too.”
For more, visit www.miamidade.gov/economicadvocacytrust/teen-court.asp
FOUR TOPS TO PERFORM
The Sounds of Motown can be heard in all their glory when the celebrated Four Tops play as headliner at the University of Miami Project: New Born fundraiser.
The event will start 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7 at Miami’s Magic City Casino Stage 305 Concert Hall and all proceeds will benefit the tiniest of patients.
Project: New Born supports the Schatzi and Stanley Kassal Project: New Born Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in the Holtz Children’s Hospital at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Medical Center Complex.
The evening will start with the jazz of Joe Donato and Ensemble. A four-course gourmet dinner begins 9 p.m., along with dancing to the band The Clique.
After dinner it will be the unforgettable Four Tops in concert. The group with hits including “Baby I Need Your Loving,” “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch)” and “It’s the Same Old Song” were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.
Barbara Havenick, owner of Magic City Casino, generously made the donation for the Sounds of Motown event and concert after her grandson had a positive stay in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
“Havenick was so grateful she wanted to do something special for the charity and offered to bring the Four Tops to their fund-raising event. The rest is Rock & Roll history,” Schatzi Kassal said in a release.
Tables of 10 are available at $2,500, $3,750 and $5,000 levels and individual dinner seats may be reserved for $250 or $375. Visit www.ProjectNewBorn.org/events or call 305-335-2007.
BEACH HIGH 30TH REUNION
Many successful classmates will be celebrating the 30th reunion of the Miami Beach Senior High School Class of 1986. “Beach High Royalty” is what one organizer, Betsy Courshon, calls her fellow graduates.
“Who knew that growing up on Miami Beach in the late ’70s and ’80s would generate such a buzz today?!” she said. “Thirty years ago, Miami Beach was not the place to be and be seen. In fact, the only reason to take a trip south of 17th Street after dark, car doors locked, was for the world famous Joe’s Stone Crabs.”
The reunion will be 7 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Miami Beach Resort and Spa.
Courshon and co-chair Hillary Weiss Liss are planning “a trip down memory lane with our fabulous and exceptional group of fellow classmates.” They include distinguished educators, physicians, attorneys, business owners, real estate developers, film directors, a famous author and even a Super Bowl Champion.
“Our class, incredibly diverse and unique, managed to generate some of the most accomplished movers and shakers of today,” Courshon said. Classmates can find more and purchase tickets at http://www.mb1986.reunited.com/.
If you have news for this column, please send it to Christina Mayo at firstname.lastname@example.org.