Hancock County

Hancock County supervisors could get some power over Youth Court

Youth Courts in Mississippi can keep their files secret from parents of children in abuse cases.
Youth Courts in Mississippi can keep their files secret from parents of children in abuse cases. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

A Hancock County lawmaker said three bills he filed Monday would “shine more light” on the Youth Court in that county.

Rep. Timmy Ladner, R-Poplarville, said the bills are similar to bills he and Rep. Richard Bennett, R-Long Beach, with one exception. They all are local-private bills that would apply only to the Hancock County Youth Court. The deadline for introduction of all bills other than local-private bills has long-since passed.

“There have been issues raised about that court,” said Ladner. Many of those issues were uncovered in a Sun Herald investigation that led to the series Fostering Secrets about problems in the child protection system. “We’re doing everything we can to shed some light on what’s going on in that court.”

One bill would allow the Board of Supervisors to order the release to the media of Youth Court records of any child who is the subject of allegations of abuse or neglect.

Another would allow the supervisors to require the Youth Court to turn over records in Youth Court cases to the parents of the children involved.

The third would allow the supervisors to have the district attorney to appoint a youth court prosecutor.

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