What is a Teen Court?
Teen Court is a nationally recognized early intervention and restorative justice program for juveniles (ages 12-18), giving the offender a second chance while holding them accountable for their actions. The Teen Court program serves as a community-based intervention/diversion program designed to provide an alternative response for the juvenile justice system. The teen accepts responsibility for their offense, appears before a judge and their peers, and is sentenced. The goal of the Teen Court Program is to interrupt developing patterns of criminal behavior by promoting feelings of self-esteem, motivation for self-improvement, and a healthy attitude toward authority. Teen Court challenges the offenders, as well as the volunteer teens, to perform at their highest level of ability. Teen Courts give appropriate offenders a second chance, yet holds them accountable for their actions. The courts use positive peer pressure to ensure that young people who commit even minor offenses give back to the community and avoid further contact with the justice system. The sanctions are determined by the Teen Court jury, and typically include community service, jury duty, and letters of apology. Other possible sanctions can include, behavior modification classes, essays, counseling, educational programs, gender-specific programs, and substance abuse prevention workshops.