Teen Court Program Gives Kids a Second Chance

Teen Court is where the jury, prosecutor and defense attorney are all under 18.

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Teen Court is where youth offenders can get a second chance. Where they can possibly avoid jail time and avoid having a record.

“It really makes you think about the consequences of your actions when you commit certain things," Danny Felton said.

Felton is 18-years-old and a teen court volunteer. He says he enjoys being a part of a program that gives kids an opportunity to right a wrong.

“I just like how basically how they get second chances, you know instead of getting a harsh thing,” Felton said.

At Teen Court, the jury, prosecutor, and defense attorney are all less than 18 years old.

It’s a juvenile court alternative for kids who have committed a misdemeanor crime.  

"You get to witness and participate in the sanctioning of someone who pleaded guilty of a petty offense,” Francesca Scovino, another Teen Court volunteer said.

The hearings would usually meet inside a courtroom, but since the pandemic they have been meeting virtually.

After the teen’s case is heard, they are given a verdict that can range from community service to seeing a therapist, which Scovino believes is more effective for teens.

“They get to participate in different workshops and thing that actually resolves their problems. It’s not punishments it’s rehabilitation," Scovino explained.

The program recently received funds from Miami Dade County’s “Peace and Prosperity” plan. A multi-million-dollar strategy that would fund local programs to help fight gun violence within the next two years.

“With the 'Peace and Prosperity' plan, we were excited because we’ve been doing the youth intern partnership initiative for years, we decided then to reach out to the mayor’s office and asked if we could have our youth participate," Jordan Pate, who a Teen Court Specialist said.

Teen Court sessions are coming back to in-person hearings this upcoming October. For more information, click here.

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