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Teen Court
 

“Young People Delivering Justice…”

The Bureau County Teen Court (BCTC) is a voluntary alternative to the criminal justice system for young offenders who have committed a first time offense. Operating on the philosophy that it is better to prevent crime than to punish it, police youth officers have a community service option as an alternative to processing formal charges.

The goal of the Teen Court is to intervene in early anti-social, delinquent, and criminal behavior, and to reduce the incidence and prevent the escalation of such behavior. In each case, young people get a chance to make up for the harm they have caused.

Why do we need a Teen Court in Bureau County?
Teen Court is designed to provide a community based alternative to the formal court process. It represents a positive and effective supplement alternative to the juvenile justice system and focuses on learning important citizenship knowledge, skills, and accountability.

Youth offenders learn to take responsibility for their actions. The BCTC program represents a way for juveniles to keep their records clean and learn from their mistakes. Cases addressed by Teen Court are handled on a timely basis and free up time for the circuit court system to handle more serious cases.

How does BCTC work?
The program does not determine guilt or innocence. Prior to appearing before Teen Court, the young offender and a parent or guardian must agree to a statement of guilt. Once a guilty plea has been established, a case is sent to BCTC for hearing before a jury of six to ten peers and an adult moderator. The young offender admits having committed the offense; the responsible police officer or a representative from the State’s Attorney’s Office determines that a Teen Court disposition is appropriate, and the young offender and his parent(s) or guardian consent in writing to such a disposition.

When the aforementioned conditions are met, the young offender and his parents or guardian are scheduled for a hearing before a Teen Court panel at a definite date and time.

At the hearing, the arresting police officer reads the charges and summarizes the facts of the case. The moderator will state the possible sentence if the offense was committed by an adult. The young offender is then questioned by the members of the jury panel. The young offender and his or her parents or guardian then leave the room while the jury deliberates and decides the appropriate punishment.

What does the jury decide?
The Teen Court Jury panel may impose a sentence that includes community service, restitution, apology letters, Teen Court jury duty, research papers, prevention or education programs, attendance at classes or counseling sessions, etc. The jury panel cannot sentence any youth to a detention facility or jail.

What happens upon sentence being imposed?
The young offender and his or her parents or guardian are then recalled and informed of the sentence. The young offender is then given a written copy of the sentence and a date of no more than 60 days later for a discharge hearing.

The young offender then performs the assigned tasks. The performance is monitored by the Peer Jury Coordinator or a member of the peer jury.

At the discharge hearing, the offender and his parents or guardian appear again. The jury panel reviews the offender’s performance and questions the young offender about his experiences while performing the sentence. If satisfactory, the young offender is discharged and no further record exists of the offense or punishment. If the performance is incomplete or unsatisfactory, the peer jury may send the case to the circuit court for juvenile proceedings.

What type of cases are heard in Teen Court?
Typical cases that may be heard in BCTC include theft, retail theft, criminal damage to property, assault, smoking/tobacco violations, criminal trespass to land, criminal trespass to motor vehicle, curfew, disorderly conduct, non-age consumption of alcohol, possession of alcohol, possession of drug paraphernalia, and any other non-violent violation with approval of the BCTC Coordinator or advisory board.

Will any of the youth offender’s friends be on the Peer Jury?
A list of the young offenders appearing is given to all prospective jurors, and they disqualify themselves from the case where they know, or could know, the young offender.

Will anyone outside the police department and the BCTC know that the youth offender is serving a sentence?
The BCTC proceedings records are absolutely confidential. No list of young offenders appearing before the teen jury panel is published, and the press is not permitted to report individual cases.

If a jury panel member is suspected of violation of confidentiality, he or she will be dismissed from the BCTC program immediately.

How are the Peer Jury personnel selected?
The appointing authority for all Peer Jury personnel is through the Chiefs of Police of the cities and by recommendation of the program coordinator. Adult panel moderators and the Peer Jury Coordinator are individuals of good standing in the community who are selected on the basis of an appropriate investigation and interviews. Peer jurors are recruited through advertisement, followed by the submission of an application and extensive interviews. After selection all personnel are provided with training and orientation before assuming their duties. After a suitable period, a former offender who has satisfactorily completed a sentence may be invited to become a Peer Juror. Such individuals make a unique contribution to the Peer Jury process.

What is the attitude towards the offender?
All offenders appearing before the Peer Jury are treated with dignity and respect; demeaning and belittling attitudes and comments will not be tolerated. The objective of the program is to develop a sense of responsibility and accountability within the offender.

What is the program objective?
The Bureau County Teen Court program is designed to help the child and family deal with a problem situation in a constructive and positive manner.

What entities are responsible for establishing the BCTC?
The Bureau County Clerk of the Circuit Court’s Office, the Bureau County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Bureau County Public Defender’s Office, the Illinois Coalition for Community Services, the Princeton Police Department, the Bureau County Sheriff’s Department, and local law enforcement agencies have banded together to establish the Bureau County Teen Court.

Who should be contacted for more information?
For further information, please contact: Bureau County Teen Court, Clerk of the Circuit Court, 700 South Main Street, Princeton, IL 61356. Program Coordinator Kris Ferrari may be reached by telephone at 815-872-2001 (ext 562) or by email at bcpeerjury@yahoo.com.

 
*The Circuit Clerk Record Search is intended to be a summary of information for the public. It does not take the place of legal information held in the actual Court file. The Bureau County Circuit Clerk accepts no liability for discrepancies between the electronic version and the official printed document.
 
© 2014 Bureau County Clerk of the Circuit Court