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Teen Court

By November 13, 2017December 16th, 2019Shared Hope
My name is Anna Colby and I am a 2L serving on the student staff for the Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, & the Rule of Law (CGJ).

This semester I began working on the Shared Hope project researching dependency, delinquency, and alternate processes (see Courtney Knox’s blog post). I was very surprised to learn about an area of our juvenile judicial system that is rarely talked about- Teen Court.

In Teen Court (also called youth or peer court), first-time offending juveniles who have committed low-level crimes or status offenses can admit guilt and choose to be adjudicated by a jury of their peers (other teens), complete with a teen judge, for a sentence. The youth advocate defender, as well as the community advocate, are both teens as well. Although this system is not very well known, it has had great success in preventing minors from re-offending.

Minors who go through the Teen Court process don’t face the same kinds of consequences as in a regular juvenile court. The goal of Teen Court is to deal with the root issue of why an offender took the actions he or she did, not just to hand down a sentence.

Finding out about this alternate form of adjudication has been refreshing and enlightening to me, and has given me hope for the juvenile justice system.

If you’d like to read more about teen courts, please check out the following articles:

Katie J.M. Baker, Welcome to Teen Court, Buzzfeed News (2015).

Lynne Marie Kohm and Alison R. Haefner, Empowering Love and Respect for Child Offenders Through Therapeutic Jurisprudence: The Teen Courts Example, Sociology and Anthropology 4(4): 212-221 (2016).

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice student staff member.  The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.