SARASOTA, Fla. - Our Amazing Suncoast Woman this week is Katie Self, Executive Director of the Sarasota County Teen Court Program.
Katie has headed up the Teen Court since its inception 24 years ago.
Since then, 10,000 Sarasota County teens, in minor trouble for something like shop lifting, have come through the court.
This way they don't go through the regular Court System and get a black mark on their record, and they are judged and sentenced by a group of their peers. They do appropriate community service and then return to serve on the jury. They also often return to serve as an attorney, or court clerk in the program.
It has an amazing success rate. Only 12% of juveniles who come through Teen Court ever get in trouble again. For teens who go through regular court, the rate is more than 40%.
Katie Self says over the years, she has learned that everyone deserves a second chance, and to never say no to an opportunity. She didn't want the job originally, and only planned to stay 6 months. It's turned out to be one of her greatest joys.