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Carol Erskine

First Justice | Worcester Juvenile Court

A juvenile court judge for 13 years, Carol Erskine works daily with the youth of Worcester through civil cases, child abuse and neglect cases, and many diversion programs.

“Juvenile court gives us a chance to get involved with kids, and hopefully prevent them from returning to court as adult offenders,” Judge Erskine said. In 2006, she was appointed the first justice of the Worcester Juvenile Court, which means she schedules cases and does other administrative work as well. 

The juvenile court hears cases involving delinquency; youthful offenders; child abuse and neglect; and civil cases such as truancy, runaways and children not following their parents’ rules. Worcester County Juvenile Court is the busiest in the state, with five judges hearing 3,000-5,000 cases a year, she said.

Judge Erskine also has been involved in diversion and prevention programs with local schools and hospitals.

About eight years ago, she implemented a program with UMass Medical Center for high-risk teenage drivers. Teen RIDE (Reality Intensive Drivers Education) is a one-day program where court-involved youths and parents see a mock trauma, hear from doctors, judges, and survivors of motor vehicle crashes,. The program runs about six times a year, and more than 500 kids have gone through the program.

She said the program has reduced recidivism rates for motor vehicle offenses such as driving under the influence, from 35 percent to 6 percent.

The Worcester Juvenile Court also works with elementary and secondary schools in the city to intervene and prevent truancy cases, by meeting with parents, police and staff proactively.

Another intervention program she is involved in is BRACE (Bullying Remediation and Court Education), which works with children and parents to reduce bullying in schools. The schools can send children with bullying issues for the program, which includes presentations by police, courts and clinicians.

The court also has been involved in a juvenile alternative program for about seven years, which is a program that looks for alternatives to locking up kids, such as finding them shelter beds or foster care if they need to be removed from their home. This program has helped reduce arraignments by 44 percent in seven years.

One of six children, her father was a cobbler. She attended QCC at age 18, completing her pre-requisites and then clinical hours for the respiratory therapy program, graduating in 1973. At 20 years old, she was working in the intensive care unit.

“QCC provides a strong support for people who want to further their education, but also is supportive of people looking to get jobs or training. The college supports students no matter what their goals are,” Judge Erskine said.

She taught at QCC for 10 years as a tenured professor in the respiratory therapy program. While teaching she attended Suffolk University Law School, after receiving her bachelor’s degree from Clark University. She said the school was very supportive of her continuing her education while she was teaching as well.