Davidson Juvenile Court Judge Calloway Strengthens Community Through Youth Courts

August 11, 2015

Davidson County Judge Shelia Calloway recently conducted training at Lipscomb University in Nashville to share information about her court’s Peer-Driven Youth Justice, an initiative that involves students in determining the proper sentence for offenders.

The program allows non-violent first-time offenders to go through the peer court. It uses a method called “Restorative Justice” which includes:

(1) Holding respondents accountable for their offenses by increasing their awareness of the effect their actions have had on victims and giving them opportunities to repair the harm;

(2) Helping the respondents develop skills and competencies so that they will not offend again and so that they can be productive members of society; and

(3) Involving the community in the response to the offense.

Teens in Davidson County Youth Courts are trained by members of their community, including Juvenile Court Judge Calloway and her staff, attorneys, law students, and teachers. The students learn the structure of court, proper courtroom etiquette, case preparation, witness questioning, and fair sentence determination.

Judge Calloway said the program has seen a recidivism rate of four percent and the staff estimates the peer courts have saved over $1 million by keeping the juveniles out of the court system not only the first time, but avoiding it altogether in the future as well.

There are four Youth Courts in Davidson County:

  • Antioch High School
  • Cane Ridge High School
  • McGavock High School
  • Whites Creek High School

Eleven other counties across Tennessee have similar programs. There are over 1400 Youth Courts in the United States.

Davidson County Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway and AOC Director Deborah Taylor Tate