Teen Court Programs Should Be Established

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“It helped me realize I was not around the right crowd and got me on the right path for my future,” states Emmalyne Sheridan, a current WVU freshman and experiencer of the teen court process. Teen courts are legally binding, sentence based courts for first time low-level juvenile offenders that aim to build character instead of issuing punishments. These courts consist of juveniles holding positions such as clerk, prosecuting and defence attorneys, bailiff, and the jury. The entire process is completed with little adult involvement resulting in an almost completely teen run system. Some may argue that these programs are useless and just delay the process of actual teen reformation, but this is not the case. Teen court programs should be established and utilized in all jurisdictions because of their use of reform over punishment, influence, and establishment of a future pathway. Teen Court’s successes first derive from the aspect of using sentencing as a way of personal reform instead of just by punishment. This gives the program the ability to have a greater impact on these first-time offenders because they are given the opportunity to think about their actions and correct their wrongdoings. First-time offenders, teens who do not have a juvenile record, are typically kids who get involved with the wrong crowd and commit crimes such as underage drinking or shoplifting. These special court cases are not a determination of innocence or guilt, but a way of determining the
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