O‘ahu Family Court hosted in Lihu‘e today by Kaua‘i Teen Court

LIHU‘E — September is National Youth Court month, and Hale ‘Opio, host of the Kaua‘i Teen Court, expanded the celebration by hosting a contingent of O‘ahu Family Court leaders for a day-long series of conferences, discussions and a sit-through of actual teen court proceedings today.

With the group working out of the Hale ‘Opio conference room in Lihu‘e, Christiane Ikehara, the Windward O‘ahu probation supervisor, headed up the group including Jerrel Spires, a worker with status offenders and Carol Matsuoka, coordinator of the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative for the Judiciary in assisting the state to identify and develop programs which will keep youth out of detention homes, said LaVerne Bishop, executive director of Hale ‘Opio Kaua‘i and author of the first Teen Court proposal in 1995.

David Hipp, executive director of the Office of Youth Services which oversees federal monies which come to the state to divert youth from the juvenile justice system, developed graduated sanctions within the justice system and addressed the disproportionate minority contact and confinement of Hawaiian, part Hawaiian, Samoan and others over-represented in the juvenile justice system.

Judge Matthew Viola, First Circuit Juvenile Court judge and Juvenile Drug Court judge, was interested in more programs which address the core issues of youth appearing before him.

That group made up the O‘ahu delegation who were hosted by Bishop, Arleen Kuwamura, Hale ‘Opio Teen Court manager, and Assistant Jessie Bonachita who work to engage youth in the Teen Court process.

During the networking meetings, Kaua‘i Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka, Teen Court judges Walton Hong, Greg Meyers, Laurel Loo, Kaua‘i Police Department Captain Kaleo Perez, Chief Court Administrator David Lam, Juvenile Services Administrator Kari Yamashiro and Teen Court volunteers David Klemer and Deana Shelby met with the O‘ahu delegation to discuss how Teen Court partners work together before the O‘ahu group and its hostesses adjourned to observe the Kaua‘i Teen Court proceedings at the Kaua‘i County Complex.

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