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  Welcome to Teen Court , an Option of the Diversion Program of Island County Juvenile Court .

 

In Teen Court, juvenile offenders are held accountable by a jury of their peers. This program offers unique opportunities for all participants to:

Learn about the consequences of criminal behavior & to make positive contributions to the community.

 

Teen Court provides youth offenders and community youth the chance to participate in a community service project. The program gives teens the opportunity to weigh the effects of criminal behavior on the community and have a voice in determining the community's response. Teen Court participants deal with the rights and responsibilities of individuals and the role of citizens in our justice system.

Supporters of Teen Court believe that teens can thoughtfully and responsibly represent community interests as well as defend and sentence youth offenders. Teen Court is a place where peer pressure can exert a positive influence of teen behavior. Program goals include: 1) Educating the offender about the effects of his/her crime on others; 2) Shortening the time needed to resolve charges; 3) Reinforcing a sense of community responsibility for all participants.

Teen Court hears cases that involve first time youth offenders. The offenses involved are misdemeanors or gross misdemeanors, and do not normally include offenses involving weapons and gang activity.

In Teen Court , the offender admits to the offense and then goes before a juryof high school students who determine the restorative justice penalties. The jury is a mix of non-offender volunteers and those who previously had their own charges resolved in Teen Court , Diversion, or Juvenile Court. High school students serve as advocates, presenting the case to the jury on behalf of the State and the accused. Other students serve as bailiffs, clerks, and student judges. Volunteer attorneys serve as mentors for the advocates.

Two cases will be heard in a two-hour evening session once a month from September to June. Eligible youth are referred to the program by the Island County Juvenile Court Services. Failure to comply with the disposition of the Teen Court will result in referral of the case back to the Island County Prosecuting Attorney for formal prosecution.

Throughout the country, Teen Courts report successful outcomes and reduced recidivism. Youthful offenders often respect the judgments of their peers more than those handed down by adults. Offenders have a better sense of the wrongfulness of their conduct and have a chance to change in a positive manner. This type of restorative justice benefits the entire community, not just the youth facing a teen jury.