Teen Court of Lea County, Inc. is a first offender program with a hands on approach to the judicial system. It is an innovative concept that introduces middle and high school students to a real-life courtroom environment. Customary courtroom protocols and procedures are implemented by volunteer youth in roles of the prosecuting and defense attorney's. Youth offenders, as part of program completion, impart the role as the jury. Adult volunteers preside over the cases as the judge and local law enforcement serve as the baliff.
Through the Teen Court system, a youth's peers determine logical, equitable consequences for his/her misconduct. The court process does not determine innocence or guilt of youth offenders. It holds youth accountable for their actions by imposing predetermined sentences of community service hours and jury duty.
Teen Court participation is voluntary. Upon entering the program, the youth member must successfully complete community service hours, jury duty and tutoring or they will be sent back to the referring agency for further disposition. If the youth offender successfully completes the program, a recommendation is made to the referring court to defer the charges.
Teen Court is designed to address the needs of the offenders. The process involves the families and encourages community engagement. The program seeks to prevent the potential escalation of youth misbehavior by providing positive avenues for personal and social success. It involves youth taking responsibility for their actions and provides the community an active role in service to teens.
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