A Dallas County judge is presiding over a special kind or court that gives ‘second chances’ and may be the only one of its kind in the country.
The goal is to inspire and motivate positive change in the largest portion of young people that are clogging up the courts — 18- to 24-year-olds.
The program takes place after indictment and before conviction. The chosen few who are successful will have their felony records expunged.
The court is only for non-violent offenders. Everyone in the program is facing a felony charge, meaning if they don’t get through the program, they could face anywhere from two years to life in prison.
Everyone in the courtroom gallery is facing felony prison time. The young men and women range in age from 18 to 24. They are all charged with non-violent felonies like robbery, theft, burglary and drug possession.
They are all part of the Dallas County AIM Program – Achieve, Inspire, Motivate.
Judge Brandon Birmingham oversees the program. The group meets every Monday. And before each meeting with the accused, Birmingham meets with prosecutors, probation officers and public defenders who all review the participation of all 25 AIM members.
For most, they’re required work, keep a journal, meet with probation officers, do community service and submit to random drug testing. Violations can result in more community service and even jail time.
Depending on the severity of the offense, the program can last from a year to 18 months.
And there is group support among them when someone achieves a goal.
The program just started in January.
Judge Birmingham believes the program will be successful and those that graduate will come back and mentor to some of the following courts.