Tarrant County court program helps youths in trouble with the law

Posted Sunday, Nov. 27, 2011
By Dianna Hunt, Fort Worth Star Telegram

FORT WORTH -- Carolina's relationship with her stepmom had always been contentious, but a dispute in March over housecleaning quickly escalated out of control.

Carolina punched her stepmother, twice, and police were called, thrusting the 19-year-old into the criminal-court system to face the possibility of a blight on an otherwise unblemished record.

Last week, with a big hug to her counselor and a "thank you" to the judge, Carolina walked out of court with a clean slate, one of more than a dozen graduates this year of a pilot program designed to help young people caught up in family violence.

Key to the program is intensive counseling aimed at helping participants make better choices the next time they find themselves in bad situations.

"I know how to control my stress now and deal with everything by myself," said Carolina, who agreed to talk about the program if her full name was not used. "If it were to happen again, I would walk away. It's not worth my time, not worth going to jail."

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