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Our mission is to reverse the trend of mass incarceration in Colorado. We are a coalition of nearly 7,000 individual members and over 100 faith and community organizations who have united to stop perpetual prison expansion in Colorado through policy and sentence reform.

Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Teen Court--Justice For Kids By Kids

Castle Rock

Teen Court: Justice for teens, by teens
Contributed by: Erin Feese/YourHub.com on 1/12/2009

Teens in Castle Rock and Parker with a passion for law and justice are doing more than watching Law & Order reruns. Teen Court gives kids between 12 and 17 a chance to actually be in the courtroom and make decisions that affect their peers.

"Teen Court is designed to use positive peer pressure to encourage the offenders to change their behavior," said Sandra Gutierrez, director of the Teen Court programs in both Parker and Castle Rock.

Teen Court is a community-based program for misdemeanor juvenile offenders for crimes such as theft, harassment, trespassing, property damage, minor in possession and possession of marijuana. It gives first-time offenders, who would normally go before a judge, the option to go before a jury of their peers, Gutierrez said.

In making decisions, Teen Court volunteers draw on a variety of training including constitutional law, criminal law, victim impact and diversity, Gutierrez said. In determining a defendant's sanction, teens not only look at the charge, but also what is going on in the young person's life, she said.

"They really are trained to take into consideration all aspects of the case and to be fair and appropriate for each person," she said. "They are not there to punish, but to hold the person accountable."

The sanctions ordered by Teen Court carry the same weight as if ordered by municipal court. If a defendant completes his or her sentences within the allotted amount of time and does not commit another offense for six months after the hearing, the original charge is dismissed.

Teen Court is a restorative justice program, which means it focuses on repairing the harm done to the community, Gutierrez said. Many defendants from Teen Court come back to volunteer for the program.


Anonymous said...

This might sound like a good idea if it was "practice". Teens do not have the emotional maturity to judge others, even though they think that they do. When I was involved with the YMCA, we had teen legislatures and they passed laws against the war in Vietnam and legalization of MJ and acid...it was the wild love scene of the 60's.
Now, lets just say you expanded this to have inmates judge other inmates. You would be surprised that most of them would throw the book at the defendents. Think about how you are forming the opinions of the justice system on the next generation.mpc

Anonymous said...

Teen, or Youth Courts, have had immeasurable impact across the country in providing opportunity for youth to participate in the justice process. The data show that these courts have been very successful not only in understanding the justice process, but offer young offenders opportunity to be accountable to their victims and communities, as well as to each other.

Appropriately implemented courts allow for those young offenders who have appeared before their peers as offenders to return to the court as part of the teen/youth court team.

If you have any questions about the effectiveness of this type of approach, you might want to visit this site:


Anonymous said...

well i have to say that im in teen court and it really helps us understand what its like to judge people our own age and in some cases people we know or know of at the school. i think this ais a great program for high school students to do to learn!!!!

Anonymous said...