Judge Linda Teodosio was the guest speaker at the Norton Kiwanis club July 18.
Submitted by Dan Karant
Norton’s Kiwanis Club had a morning meeting on July 18 featuring Linda Tucci Teodosio as a guest speaker. Teodosio serves our community as Judge based out of the Summit County Juvenile Court in Akron, OH.
As Judge Teodosio explained what programs are at the Summit County Juvenile Court, it was obvious she holds higher expectations of the system than to only discipline youth offenders. Juveniles are required to take responsibly for their actions. But unlike many others, Teodosio knows more must be done to break the cycle of unruly behavior. Her goal is to provide guidance to every youth offender and to help them contribute to the community in the future.
Sadly, felonies concerning the youth remain in the county. Teodosio states one of the biggest contributing factors is poverty. Poverty can result in anything from missing homework due dates to stealing money for a bus pass for school just to receive a free meal. Attempting to get to the root of the problem, the court system helps minorities in low income households obtain jobs and sometimes even help the families get housing.
One of the hardest situations with minors is sex trafficking. In just our county alone, Teodosio confirmed at least 200 youth members involved in such cases. To address this ongoing endemic, she mentioned the program SAFTE. This program stands for “staying accident free through education” and is designed to close educational gaps for first time offenders and their parents. However, this is usually an ongoing process. The Summit County Juvenile Court runs a specialized court docket with the Restore Court program in effort to protect and stabilize youth in the community. This is a more in depth program providing mentoring, counseling, case management, and supervision for youth sex trafficking offenders.
Teodosio also discussed other programs at the Juvenile Court like the Crossroads Program for minorities involved with drugs and mental illness. Many are in the system due to opiate crisis. Nonetheless, Teodosio states methamphetamine abuse is overtaking this area. Along with the Crossroads Program, families are linked with support services and recovery coaches to encourage reunification and rehabilitation.
Lastly, one of the most basic, yet important programs is the Child Responsibility Act. Teodosio states most youth offenders are not chronic offenders, and minor situations can be handled with consequences accordingly. The Child Responsibility Act does exactly this; it gives responsibility to the youth offender by rendering them with community service to “pay back” for the low offense crimes they have committed. Having these lower level offenses to avoid incarceration allows the court to focus on more serious crimes.
Teodosio continues to drive home the most important issue: Support and guidance for the youth offenders. She has created and implemented programs listed above like Crossroads, Restore Court, and the Family Resource Center. In addition, she implemented the New Paths Probation for youth with developmental delays. Judge Teodosio has won awards for her innovative programming and progressive approach to juvenile dispositions and rehabilitation. These include the Thomas J. Moyer Award for Judicial Excellence from the Ohio State Bar Association, being named Ohio’s Public Official of the Year, being named an Outstanding Alumna of the University of Akron’s School of Law, the Award for Innovation from the Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation, “Champion for Change” Award, St. Thomas More Award, and the Peter Bommarito Community Award for Outstanding Voluntary Community Service. Judge Teodosio is a great asset to our community and has done an outstanding job helping all youth prosper.
To become a Kiwanis member or for more information about the Norton Kiwanis, please call Dan Karant at 330-825-7676.