Teen drug court in Grayson Co. officially starts next week

DENISON, Tex. (KXII) - A program set to officially start next week is aimed at helping teens who are criminally charged to stop using drugs.

It's called the RISE Court, which stands for restorative intervention to support and empower youth.

They'll still attend school, but they'll report to a probation officer, have a treatment provider for drug abuse, plus have mentors from the community to help keep them on track.

"They helped me push him in the right direction and keep in that direction," said Jonathan Campbell, whose son went through the program.

Campbell's son was in high school when he went through teen court, but that was over eight years ago when the court wasn't specifically focused on drug problems.

"Kids need help. But sometimes the parents need help too to understand what they need to do," Campbell said.

The new program in Grayson County is one of 11 official juvenile specialty courts in Texas, which means they get some of their money from the state.

Administrators said it also means teens with non-violent charges can find their place in the community again without drugs.

They'll take a maximum of 12 at at time over a period of six to nine months.

"It's exciting to see that it launched and to have an impact on young people's lives and their families," said Asst. Chief Juvenile Probation Officer Greg Sumpter.

Campbell said his son was on probation for theft and skipping school.

But he credits Grayson County teen court with his son's ability to move beyond his mistakes and have a family of his own.

"It amazes me. Yeah for sure, it was awesome," Campbell said.

Sumpter said they're looking for volunteers to mentor youth.

One program is called RISE, where they'll assign two to three mentors to each teen.

The other is called JUSTUS League, where volunteers will help the teens with skills in the community.

"We would just put support services in place around them. So that they could be successful," Sumpter said.

Campbell said teen court impacted him and his son so much, he still wants to be a part of it.

He sits on the board for the RISE Court, so he can give back to the program that gave to them.

"I want to be that bridge in that gap. I want to help when I can help," Campbell said.

The Department of Juvenile Services is holding a session on November 2 to recruit volunteers and connect with the community.