Monday, January 24, 2022 - 2:06am

Teen Court

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Kiwanis Club of North Lakeland makes donation to Polk County's Teen Court Program

Teen Court Receives Donatino from Kiwanis

Polk County’s Teen Court Program was recently the recipient of a generous donation made by the North Lakeland Kiwanis Club. Stephen Baggett (left) presented a check in the amount of $500.00 to Polk County Teen Court Manager Stephen Willis (right) on Monday, December 13, 2021, at the Polk County Courthouse in Bartow, Florida, on behalf of the North Lakeland Kiwanis Club. Polk County’s Teen Court program currently has 776 program participants and has had great success in permanently steering many first-time juvenile offenders away from the justice system and onto a more positive path of becoming productive and successful members of society. Our Teen Court program appreciates the support of community partners like the North Lakeland Kiwanis Club that strive to make a difference in their community by supporting worthwhile programs such as this one. (to view a larger image, please click here)

Teen Court is a juvenile diversion program based on the philosophy that youthful offenders are less likely to re-offend when punishment is decided by a jury of their peers. Juveniles offenders who have little or no prior criminal history, may have their cases tried by local high school students in an actual courtroom. Most of these misdemeanor or minor felony cases are sent directly to teen court by law enforcement. This allows youth to bypass the traditional juvenile court process, thereby eliminating or minimizing a damaging criminal record. The offender must admit guilt, be accountable for their negative actions, and agree to complete any sentence handed down by their peers. Throughout this process, the youths will get a first-hand look at their justice system and an experience in restorative justice. Further, Teen Court helps to decrease the workload and expense associated with formal juvenile court proceedings.

The student volunteers have been trained to perform the roles of defense attorney, prosecutor, clerk, and bailiff. The role of judge is performed by an actual judge or attorney magistrate. Volunteers develop strong leadership skills, receive community service hours, and gain a working knowledge of their local government. A Win-Win for everyone involved!

For more information about Teen Court, please call (863) 534-4344.

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