The Community Court Session at Hartford, in partnership with
Leadership Greater Hartford's Third Age Initiative, is launching a new
educational curriculum for offenders between the ages of 16 and 21.
"The Community Court Life Skills Program" will start
Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2002, at Community Court, which is located at 80
Washington St., Hartford. The program will consist of five weekly classes
focusing on consumer skills, financial fitness, physical and mental health,
and enhancing employability and socially appropriate behavior. Through the
curriculum, instructors hope to teach the youths the practical skills they
need to survive as independent, responsible citizens.
"I see too many kids in court who don't have even the most
basic skills needed to survive as responsible members of society," Community
Court Presiding Judge Raymond R. Norko said. "Whatever the circumstances are
that have affected their lives, they haven't learned how to balance a
checkbook, how to interview for a job, or about nutrition. We intend to
introduce these concepts into their lives."
Youths who enter the program will be culled from the
Community Court docket by the Court, or on the recommendation of the
prosecutors, social services staff, or bail commissioners. Offenders who
complete the program will have a formal graduation, complete with diplomas.
The Third Age Initiative has volunteered for the program,
and there is no cost to the state. Retired educators, professionals, and
other interested in sharing their knowledge comprise the Third Age
Initiative, and volunteers from the organization will teach the classes.
Members of the Third Age Initiative -- led by program
Director Doe Hentschel -- Approached the Community Court in Hartford last
spring to determine whether there was a population in need and a forum in
which they could help others through teaching. After several discussions,
both parties saw an opportunity to help young offenders.
"Our team, under the auspices of Leadership Greater
Hartford, has developed a program that identifies five core areas that will
give the participants the knowledge and resources needed to have the
necessary life skills to improve their quality of life," Third Age
Initiative Coordinator Janice Vissoe said. "We hope that they will use this
information not only for themselves but with their family and friends, so
that a 'ripple effect' of this information will get out into the community."
Judge Norko added: "The Community Court is very excited to
be working with the volunteers from the Third Age Initiative. They have a
great deal to offer our kids and most important, they care about helping
these kids. I am impressed with their commitment to helping others."
The jurisdiction of the Community Court Session in Hartford
includes the City of Hartford, and the towns of Avon, Bloomfield, Canton,
Farmington, and West Hartford. The Court handles public nuisance "quality of
life" crimes and misdemeanors, including breach of peace, larceny, public
drunkenness, prostitution, solicitation, and simple possession of marijuana.
Defendants are ordered to perform community service, rather than being sent
For further information, contact Rhonda Stearley-Hebert,
Manager of Communications, at 860-757-2270.