Terry S. Smith, Ph.D., Executive Director
We continue our focus of “putting Youth First.” Thus creating, augmenting and developing programs and services that best fit our population. We have made significant strides for Dallas County by utilizing diversion courts, creating programs that are data driven for special populations, ardently seeking community partnerships, reestablishing family engagement and capitalizing on the value of restorative justice.
I, along with an exceptional administrative team, am proud of our Department’s accomplishments. This includes reducing racial disparities with the establishment of a premier diversion court-DMC (Diversion Male Court). Additionally, we are expanding the parameters of ESTEEM court to accept post-adjudicated girls. We reduced our override rate leading to declines in racial incongruence. Probation staff worked alongside administration to decrease the filing of non-violent VOPs (i.e., failure to contact probation officer). Moreover, this is the first time since 2011 that we have reached our target placement goal of 120 youth. The number of youth coming into the system continues to decline, allowing this Department to focus on those youth who need intense services.
I am extremely proud of the Dallas County Juvenile Department staff especially those who shifted their paradigm by thinking outside of the box. By tackling the ‘low hanging’ fruit we have been able to keep low-level offenders in the community thus preventing further ingress into our system.
We have an incomparable and consummate judiciary team lead by Judge Cheryl Shannon-305th District Court and Judge Andrea Martin-304th District Court along with their Associate Judges and Detention Judge; Judge Derrick Morrison, Judge Alice Rodriguez and Judge Melinda Forbes respectively. Their support directly sets our foundation for new and innovative programming. Additionally, we have had tremendous support from our Juvenile Board. They too have demonstrated incredible dedication by giving their free time, supporting initiatives and sharing our successes in their travels.
Although we are significantly making a difference in the lives of the youth and families we serve, we are not done yet. Albeit some may be satisfied with these accomplishments, this administration is not, it is not time to rest on our laurels. We must continue to work on prevention and intervention for the youth and families of Dallas County. We must continue putting Youth First!