ClickonDetroit.com: The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office has created a teen court where juveniles who are accused of minor violations of the law are judged and sentenced by their peers.
Teens who are accused of minor violations such as shoplifting or fighting in school and have no previous criminal record are given a second chance, said Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.
The teens are sentenced by a jury of teens, and if they successfully complete the program without violating the terms of their sentence, Wayne County prosecutors dismiss the case and do not file formal charges.
Worthy said the teen court is a proactive and preventative crime-fighting program.
In court, the teen must admit his of her actions, and then the jury examines the teen.
The juvenile's parents are also required to be present so the jury can ask them questions about the teen's behavior, or whether there are other issues the jury should be aware of when determining a sentence.
Often times, the parents learn more about their teen's behavior that they were not aware of such as drug or alcohol use.
After questioning, the teen jury determines an appropriate sentence and consults with the presiding judge.
On Wednesday, a teen who was accused of fighting in school was sentenced to six months probation and he must keep his grades up.
The jury often sentences the teens to a probation period, or community service, random drug screening and letters of apology.
"It's an alternative instead of going to juvi. I think they really learn, 'hay they gave us a chance,'" said student juror Kimberly Rhodes.
The program is held each week during school at Huron High School and the 29th District Court, Judge Laura Mack presides over the probationary services for the youths.
"This program is effective, in large part, because juveniles are receiving and hearing a sentence that is fashioned by their 'peers' in every sense of the word," said Wayne County Juvenile Division Deputy Chief Brian Morrow, who has been involved in creating and implementing the teen court program since 2007.
Teens Make Up Special Jury In Wayne Co.
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