By: Sarah Snyder
ODESSA - It's another chance for Odessa to have a shot at the small screen. A production company is eyeing the Teen Court program in Odessa as an opportunity for a new TV show. On Wednesday, city officials signed the documents to give the project a go-ahead.
TV PUG Entertainment, a Los Angeles based production company, is eyeing several Teen Courts across the state as the basis for a new show, called Texas Teen Court. It's a project that would follow the student-offenders as they move through the court system.
"I want people to get out of this show what our program is about," Odessa Teen Court Coordinator, Tammy Hawkins, said. "Our program is about responsibility, accountability, and these are good kids who made a mistake. Just because you made a mistake it doesn't make you're a bad person, but you must learn."
Odessa's Teen Court works with kids as young as ten who have been accused of misdemeanor cases: everything from school fighting, to underage drinking and parking violations. The court consists of a defendant, a panel of teenage jurors, and teen attorneys. The only adult is the judge.
"The kids are accepting accountability and responsibility for their actions and now they're going to go forward and be a better person because of it," Hawkins said.
"I think Odessa Teen Court has been on the forefront from the beginning," Odessa City Manager, Richard Morton, said. "They may have been one of the first teen courts in Texas, so I think it's an honor that a reality show would look at them to include them."
The parents and students would have a choice on whether they want to be involved with the TV show and the program directors are adamant that Odessa Teen Court will have complete editorial control on how the court and the city are portrayed.
"That's our role: to make sure the right message is sent," Hawkins said. "That's critical - that the children are portrayed as a child who made a mistake and not as a hardened criminal."
"If they're going to portray our citizens, our kids, our city, we don't want any bad publicity from this," Morton said. "We would like the city to be portrayed as it is."
Midland's Teen Court were also asked to be a part of the project but declined based on confidentiality and a lack of staff. Right now, the show's producers are in the process of pitching the series to several networks. They're also planning to include other counties and cities around the state.