County Program That Gives Teens Second Chances Celebrates 20 Years (VIDEO)

Teen Court, a program aimed at giving teens second chances in the judicial system, is celebrating 20 years of service in the community.

The program was created in March of 1997  for first or second time juvenile offenders who have pleaded guilty to committing misdemeanor offenses.

As a result of the guilty plea, respondents appear at a sentencing hearing conducted by their teenage peers who acts as jurors.

The goal of teen court is to steer first time offenders away from criminal behavior patterns while giving teen-jurors a chance to see what the offender might need to become a productive member of society.

“It is a program that has shown success year in and year out,” Ramon Korionoff, public affairs director for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office said. “Over 5,000 cases have been heard and children are given second chances.”

The peer jury is made up of Montgomery County residents who have completed the eighth grade.

“It’s such a great experience,” Simonne Vincent, former volunteer said. “It’s important that teens get a second chance. Some of them don’t even know what the laws are in this county so it’s important that they learn and get help.”

Montgomery County’s Teen Court also partners with the Department of Health and Human Services for mental health and substance abuse screenings to ensure respondents are getting all the help they need.

Mitti Hicks

About Mitti Hicks

Mitti Hicks is a multimedia journalist and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She is passionate about telling stories that impact our community and may be reached at MHicks@mymcmedia.org and on Twitter @mittimegan.

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