Being a judge in juvenile court isn’t easy. Part of the job entails stepping into a bad family situation and making a tough, unpopular decision in the most trying of times.
Truancy, criminality, substance abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and abandonment, and termination of parental rights — the worst things imaginable — wind up in juvenile court. And after hearing nearly 19,000 cases, circuit court judge Stacey Zimmerman, whose jurisdiction covers Washington and Madison counties, has seen it all.
But she also said there’s plenty of reasons for hope, and at least some of the teens who come through her court have the chance to join diversion programs like Aikido, Outdoor Adventure Club and Art Therapy. The intent is to keep families together and to deter future unlawful... [ MORE ]