Nick Kuntz, Montgomery County Juvenile Court Judge, met with our South of Dayton Democratic Club this week. Kuntz has served as Juvenile Judge since 1994 and this year is on the ballot for re-election. He thanked the club for supporting his reelection campaign. He said that he loves his work and that during his tenure he has worked to make a lot of good improvements in the county’s juvenile court system. He said that he has visited over 100 other juvenile court systems and has not found a juvenile court system better than Montgomery County’s.
I was very impressed — not only with the judge’s words, but also in his matter-of-fact, yet compassionate attitude.
Kuntz said that he was surprised to have competition in this re-election effort and that, although his opponents are good people, they have little or no experience in dealing with the type of cases he has encountered in his life’s work.
Judge Kuntz spoke briefly about some of the programs for juveniles that he has helped developed in Montgomery County. Kuntz said that in administering juvenile justice, he does not shy away from using the word “punishment,” but believes that punishment must be seen as a first step to rehabilitation.
Kuntz’s web-site is outstanding in its thoroughness. It shows the judge’s resume. It tells the judge’s philosophy and gives details about the programs either initiated by or established during his administration. Judge Kuntz notes that juveniles who are in trouble usually lack a good support system, a good value system, and they lack hope. His web-site explains:
“We need to do whatever we can to give them support, teach them values, and give them hope for the future. We believe in punishment (appropriate consequences) because rehabilitation begins with appropriate consequences.
Incarceration, in and of itself, does little to solve the problem. The trick is to know which ones need to be locked up to protect the community and which ones to treat in the community setting. Experience teaches this.
We believe in utilizing Evidence Based Programs, proven to be successful.
We believe in building on the strengths of the child and their families (Strength Based Service) rather than concentrating on their weaknesses.
We believe in (seamless services) actually connecting our clients to outside resources, rather than simply referring them, and then keep them engaged.”
Judge Nick Kuntz has initiated and/or supported a number of very important youth programs that have been of significant benefit to the community and to the yourth that they have helped. These programs include:
- Reentry Court Program
- LIFE (program for girls)
- Start Right Program
- Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Program
- Start-Up of the Juvenile Court Alternative Rehabilitation Effort (JCARE) Program
- Successful Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative
- Center for Adolescent Services
- Reclaiming Futures
- Juvenile Court Accountability Program
- The Crossover Youth Practice Model