LAWRENCE – The City of Lawrence recently partnered with Reach For Youth to create a Teen Court program in Lawrence.
This unique diversion option provides an alternative to traditional juvenile incarceration through a peer-managed trial process in which fellow teenagers act as the prosecution, defense, and jury.
With the consent and involvement of the young person’s parents, Teen Court allows students who may be on the verge of entering the juvenile justice system an opportunity to avoid incarceration by bringing their case to a jury of peers who decide on the “sentence” for their offense. Teen Court offenders have already admitted guilt; the process is to determine the specific consequences owed to the young person’s family, school, and community.
Consequences that result from these proceedings often include community service, verbal and written apologies to those affected by the bad behavior, participation in workshops, written research papers, as well as volunteer time as a Teen Court jury member on future cases. The inaugural court session was held in Lawrence in June.
Reach For Youth has facilitated the traditional Teen Court program in central Indiana for more than twenty years. Serving as a diversion program for the Marion and Johnson County Juvenile Probation Departments, young people who complete the assigned consequences can leave the program with a clean record. Reach For Youth also supports an in-school model of Teen Court that was developed to provide creative solutions to discipline issues that often result in out-of-school suspensions or habitual offenses that interrupt the learning environment.
For more information on Reach For Youth and the Lawrence Teen Court program, visit www.ReachForYouth.org.
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