I picked up my daughter after she finished her stint as a Volunteer for the Montgomery County Teen court. after listening to a few bits of information ( she firmly told me she cannot discuss any specifics) about how the process worked I summarized that it was a great way for Teens to learn the working of the justice system .
The Teen Court system offers a second chance to teenage offenders without the high cost of a criminal record.The program for first-time teenage offenders started by the Montgomery County Attorney's office has been in place for the last 10 years.
The MCPS website http://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/departments/studentaffairs/sao/opportunities/ gives these details :
Teen Court is a justice program run by teens for teens.
Juveniles aged 12 through 17 who have committed a nonviolent minor crime appear before a jury of their peers.
Cases hear in Teen Court involve crimes such as shoplifting, disorderly conduct, destruction of property and possession of alcohol.
The offender must admit guilt since this is a disposition hearing to determine consequences.
Volunteer teens perform the roles of the prosecuting and defense attorneys, bailiff, clerk, and jury. The judge is the only adult directly involved in the court proceedings. Cases are referred to Teen Court by the Montgomery County Police Department and the State of Maryland Department of Juvenile Justice. The case is presented to the teen jury for determining consequences for the offender. After careful consideration of the facts, the jury decides upon a constructive sentence which will include a minimum number of community service hours as well as service on other teen juries. Also, there might be educational programs, essays, and/or apology letters. There is a graduated set of guidelines designed for various offense levels. The offender will be allowed up to sixty days to complete the program. When this is accomplished, the charges will be dismissed.
As I sat waiting for my daughter I saw a lot of teens go by and they all looked happy probably for having given their time for a public cause. I am glad to be helping another teen volunteer for a good cause. I sincerely believe that the system is helpful ( of course I would have loved to see stats on this if any of these teems are repeat offenders)
The contact if interested is Georgene DeBord, Coordinator, at 240-777-7344 Georgine.DeBord@montgomerycountymd.gov (www.communityprosecution.org)
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