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      New youth court program in Harlingen

      It TMs a new way of handing down justice to young offenders.

      We don TMt want money, we want to get them on the right track, said Roxann Cotroneo the Harlingen City Attorney.

      Cotroneo said she has developed a program specifically aimed at helping troubled teens.

      With the youth offenses that have been occurring recently it became quite clear that concentrating on the youth was extremely important."

      Cotroneo said underage crimes have seen a decrease over the past few years but the reality is the almost 25-hundred current cases are still not acceptable.

      The overall goal is to make and improve the quality of life in our city, said the attorney. If we can do that by coming together and directing people in the right path with services that currently exist but people just don TMt know about then it TMs going to be a bigger and brighter day and future."

      Wednesday afternoon was the launch of the youth court program and about 45 teens waited patiently outside the courtroom to hear their faith.

      The youth will be put in a probationary program where they will be required to seek social services and community services to get them on the right path.

      Services that would include mentoring and educating the teens with awareness courses designed to fit them.

      If I had someone charged with minor in possession of alcohol they would be required to attend an alcohol awareness program," said Cotroneo.

      The Harlingen City Attorney also told Action 4 News this program has proven to be a success in Dallas where she initiated the idea.

      She pointed out, it was so successful it was even recognized by the United States Supreme Court and hopes that in Harlingen it will too!

      The hearings will take place every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month.

      Any social service agency interested in helping in this program can contact the city attorney's office at (956) 216-5010.