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County court, authorities tighten monitoring of juveniles on house arrest

Since taking office as the Juvenile Court Judge in January, Sharon Guffee has been ways the court can improve its effectiveness.

“We want young people before Juvenile Court today to make some positive changes” Guffee said. “Our goal in this courtroom is to get them on the right path now to make their tomorrows productive and successful.”

Left to right, FVPD Chief Harris, BPD Chief Hughes, Sheriff Long, Judge Sharon E. Guffee, Juvenile Court Clerk Brenda Hyden, SHPD Chief Brite, FPD Chief  Rahinsky

Last year, she said, Williamson County Juvenile Court processed more than 1,500 delinquent and unruly petitions filed against minors. Often when charges are filed, children are placed under immediate restrictions from the court, which includes so-called “house arrest.” This allows the child to remain in their home and attend school but restricts other activities such as driving or cell phone use until their court appearance.

In January, Guffee and local law enforcement agencies established new partnerships to assist in conducting “checks” for young people in such circumstances. Police officers now knock on the doors of children on in-home detention to assure their compliance with the court’s order.

“I am very proud of our court and the tough stance we take on juvenile crime while demonstrating an educated understanding of adolescent development,” Guffee said. “We work hard everyday to change lives and set better boundaries. Working with police agencies throughout the county has proven to be a very valuable relationship.”

Children that comply with court orders and adhere to rules are more likely to get their lives back on track, which can allow them move forward with their lives in a positive way, she said.

“I commend Judge Guffee and her staff,” said Franklin Police Chief David Rahinsky. “As a parent, as a resident and as a law enforcement professional, I recognize the fact that the services we provide today’s at-risk youth and their parents will have a dramatic impact on their future, and ours.”

Brentwood Police Chief Jeff Hughes said “Random home visits by law enforcement helps ensure accountability for the restrictions placed on juvenile delinquents by the Juvenile Court. It is important that juveniles understand that there are consequences for which they must be held accountable if they commit a delinquent act. By getting their attention at an early age, hopefully these juveniles will not make similar mistakes as adults when the penalty for doing so may be much greater.” 

The implementation of the program began about a month ago.

“We feel like we are ahead of the issues and working together enables us to prevent further crime instead of responding to further crime,” said Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long.

Posted on: 4/2/2013


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