The Jefferson County Teen Court program will host a mini law camp from 4-7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 27, at the Jack Jones Juvenile Justice Center, 301 E. Second Ave.
The Jefferson County Teen Court program gives first-time offenders, between the ages of 10 and 17, a second chance. It also holds them accountable for their actions, according to a news release. The program is open to all Jefferson County students in grades 9-12.
The Sixth Division Circuit Court (juvenile court) has proclaimed September as Teen Court Month. The camp is in observance of the effort.
In Teen Court, the defendant must stand before a jury of their peers, plead guilty and accept the sanctions they impose. Teen volunteers, ages 13 to 17, act as defense attorney, prosecuting attorney, bailiff, clerk and jury. The only participating adult in the courtroom is the judge, according to a news release.
The Teen Court program generally runs from September through April. In Jefferson County, court hearings are held on the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 4 pm.
Sixty-seven youth volunteers coducted approximately 1,210 hours of service in the program for the 2017-2018 school year, according to Jeffrey Billingsley, Jefferson County Teen Court coordinator.
Teen Court volunteers have also provided approximately 494 hours of service in community projects such as B.R.A.V.E., fall festival, National Night Out and the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Toy Drive in which the Teen Court volunteers donated more than 50 toys and other items to children in the hospital.
“Our program has been a positive force in the lives of approximately 32 teens this year by providing them a second chance while holding them accountable for their behavior,” according to the release.
“Youth courts (also called teen, peer, and student courts) are diversion programs in which youth are sentenced by their peers for minor crimes, offenses. These programs offer communities an opportunity to provide immediate consequences for primarily first-time youthful offenders,” according to the release.
The programs are intended to offer an alternative to the traditional juvenile justice system.
“Typically, youth court offenders are first-time offenders between ages 10 and 17 who have been charged with misdemeanor or status offenses, with offenses including theft, vandalism, disorderly conduct, assault. Youth court diversion programs offer an avenue for engaging the community in a partnership with the juvenile justice system to respond to the problem of juvenile crime by (1) increasing awareness of the delinquency issues within the local community, and (2) mobilizing youth to take an active role in addressing the problem of juvenile crime within the community,” according to the release.
Details: Jeffrey Billingsley, Jefferson County Teen Court coordinator, 870-541-5455.