Brooke County’s Teen Court Program began training its next group of volunteers on Wednesday evening, before they hear the cases of their peers.
Teen Court functions much in the same way as any other courtroom.
Cases are referred from the Brooke County Magistrate and the Brooke County Prosecutor, but the rest is up to the teen volunteers.
Those cases can involve anything from a student in possession of tobacco on school property to joyriding through the county.
At the training volunteers learned about all the various positions they could hold.
After training they’ll start on the jury, and work their way up to other roles such as bailiff or the defense and prosecuting attorneys.
“For those who serve as the prosecuting or defense attorneys, we have mentors in the community who are willing to work with them,” said WVU Extension Agent Carole Scheerbaum. “They are learning how this process really works in a really in-depth manor and in a way that is proactive for their peers who may be coming to the court as participants.”
Coordinators say this program is just as beneficial for the volunteers as it is for the offenders.
“Say it was a minor offense, a first time offense, this could go on their record forever, or they can come to teen court and have a chance to make amends for what their actions were and then have it disappear,” said Teen Court Coordinator Mary Ball. “It also holds them accountable instead of holding their parents accountable for their child’s actions”
Offenders have to follow through with additional orders given to them by the jury, which can include community service, counseling or participating in teen court.
The program currently has about 20 volunteers, but it’s always looking for more.
Anyone in grades seven though 12 can be involved.
For more information you can contact the Advocates for Substance Abuse Prevention or visit brookehancockfrn.org/teen-court.