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LANCASTER'S YOUTH COURT RECONVENES; JUDGE SEEKS OFFENDER PROGRAMS.

Byline: Romy Jacobson Daily News Staff Writer

Getting juvenile offenders out of the criminal justice system and back into school and the community is the top goal of the presiding judge of the juvenile delinquency court that opened Monday in Lancaster.

``Our goal here will be to take as many offenders out of the criminal justice system at the earliest opportunity we can,'' said Chesley N. McKay Jr. ``This is the one place where you get an opportunity to turn people's lives around. You try to do the best you can with what you've got.''

McKay expects to hear 30 to 50 cases a day at the former Lancaster Sheriff's Station, which was converted to the North District Juvenile Delinquency Court at a cost of $1.65 million.

Since the former delinquency facility was closed in 1996, juvenile offenders from the Antelope Valley had to go to court in Sylmar.

McKay would like to work with the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale, as well as with Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, in creating community service programs for juvenile offenders.

McKay also would like to establish a worker's compensation program for minors who do community service in an effort to remove liability from the organization. By doing so, McKay hopes to get more community groups interested in providing community service work for minors.

``We have a critical shortage of available programs in which the court can place an offender for community services or counseling needs,'' McKay said. ``The more programs we have the more we will be able to deter youthful offenders from repeating criminal behavior.''

In the future, McKay also would like to work with local school administrators on finding a way to keep juvenile offenders in school.

``The return of delinquency court in the Antelope Valley is an important service for our community,'' Antonovich said. ``I want to thank everyone who made it possible for this service to be returned the Antelope Valley.''

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Photo

PHOTO Chesley N. McKay Jr. is presiding judge of Antelope Valley's delinquency court, which opened Monday.

Shaun Dyer/Special to the Daily News
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 13, 1998
Words:352
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