“Young People Delivering
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,
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
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
If a jury panel member is suspected of violation of
confidentiality, he or she will be dismissed from the BCTC
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
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 email@example.com.