Judge Jeri Beth Cohen
I believe that the judiciary has a unique role to play in uniting community stakeholders in pursuit of a common goal of repairing the quality of life for those less fortunate in our community. I believe that judges can play a therapeutic role in the lives of individuals who appear before them in court. Most judges who engage in therapeutic jurisprudence do so first out of a sense of frustration at watching and experiencing the insanity of a system - including community service organizations, law enforcement, child welfare, the schools and the courts - doing what doesn't work over and over with the same poor outcomes and without regard for the individuals being processed through an uncaring and even anti-therapeutic system.

I translated this frustration into action and developed an irrepressible passion and commitment for making the system work for families and children. Once the system began to respond, once I appreciated the power that I possessed to act as an agent for change, once I witnessed the concrete results of that change on individuals, families and children, there was no going back. I believe that the Court can and does make a difference in people's lives.

My heart and my passion are in the juvenile dependency court. Every day in that court, I see children abused, abandoned and neglected by the people who are supposed to love them the most. Every day I, and the judges in the dependency division, have to tell children that they may not or will not return to their parents and then the judiciary, along with our partners in the community, must begin to assist these children and their families in rebuilding their lives.

In the areas of mental health and substance abuse, I have been able to build a nationally recognized model dependency co-occurring drug court in a seamless collaboration with community treatment centers, early childhood development centers and other social service agencies. Because of our Drug Court, hundreds of children have been reunited with their parents. One of the things I'm most proud of is our Healthy Girls Initiative for our foster girls. Our goal is to lower the teen pregnancy rate among our girls so that they can graduate high school and go on to higher education and live more enriching lives.

So you see, I am working hard with our community partners to make Dade County a more compassionate and children and family friendly place to live. I want to continue to serve this community for many more years.