The National Coalition of 100 Black Women sponsored a day at the courthouse involving 30 high school girls from Howard School of Academics and Technology.
Coalition representative Ingrid Jackson said, "This was a wonderful experience for our young women, and many of them have certainly been impacted by what they saw and heard here today."
General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon was asked to organize the program, which included a tour of the courtrooms, prisoner holding facilities and the jail.
Judge Moon told the group, "If you are a young woman in America today without an education, then you are going to be dependent upon a man or the government to support you for the rest of your life. Without an education, you will never know true freedom and independence nor the joys and satisfaction of a good life."
Chattanooga City Court Judge Sherry Paty also spoke to the group saying they "must make positive decisions today that will effect your lives tomorrow."
Commissioner Greg Beck said, "This is the beginning of a great effort to impact the lives of our young people."
The group was taken by Judge Moon's court officers, Claude Sterling, Joe Ferguson and Morris Bice, to areas of the courthouse complex and jail rarely seen by those outside of the criminal justice system. The young women spoke to inmates who counseled them to stay in school and avoid drugs.
The group was also escorted to the seldom-viewed tunnel under Cherry Street where inmates are delivered from the jail to the courthouse for trial.
Judge Moon said, "Never before has the jail and our facilities been made so open and available for young people to see. I very much appreciate Sheriff Billy Long and his staff for working with us on this part of the program. The kids seemed very interested and impacted by the whole situation and particularly the words from the inmates coming literally from inside their cells."
Commissioner Beck and Judge Paty treated the group to a pizza party at the end of the tour and program.
The program was part of a mentoring program established by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women in conjunction with other programs to assist young African-American women in education, health and other social issues.