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Raleigh County Teen Court Diversion Program

Xavion Easley, Staff Writer

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Since July 1st, 2006 West Virginia has been a place for teen court programs to call home. The West Virginia Teen Court Association processes by linking new and other existing programs together, this helps to collect data, share information, and deliver justice to youth in our communities.

In Teen Court, teenage defendants will have their cases argued by teenage prosecuting and defense attorneys before a jury of fellow teenagers.

Teen Court is an exclusive “second chance” program for the youth between the ages of 11 and 18 who are declared to have committed a status offense or act of delinquency. If successfully completing the program the charges are dismissed, and they are either sentenced to community service, essay writing, or anger management.

The Teen Court program is very useful to helping reinforce self esteem, provide motivation for self improvement, and enhance a healthy attitude toward authority.

Teen Court is also designed to educate youth about the judicial process. Each participate in Teen Court, whether a defendant, juror, bailiff, teen attorney, or adult volunteer; is involved in a positive and meaningful way.

Members of the Teen Court program also participate in mock hearings in preparation for Teen Court proceedings.

Youth volunteers from grades seventh through twelfth from local county schools are selected to serve a part on Teen Court. Teens can also nominate themselves. Each semester a training session is held for teens who are interested in working with the teen court program.

Would you be interested in Teen Court?

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8th Grader, Jenna Dyer gives us a little bit of information on the Teen Court program. Dyer states that, “there are two lawyers, one helps defend and the other prosecutes. The lawyer defending has to write a paragraph about why they shouldn’t get in trouble and how they can help them, while the prosecuting lawyer has to write a paragraph about why they should be punished.” Dyer also states that, “they have meetings every Tuesday from 5-6pm and that Teen Court is very fun!”

Judge John Hutchison announces that “it’s an unbelievably good educational tool because the kids in the program will be non-violent, juvenile offenders who we believe are appropriate to be diverted out of the criminal juvenile system into teen court program.”

Raleigh County’s Teen Court is managed by the Muster Project, an agency that assists in the rehabilitation of youths involved in the juvenile justice system,( run by Beckley Councilman Lee Leftwich) an individual that works with county schools and the juvenile court system to deliver mentoring and educational services.

Mr. Leftwich also administers another program. The program is called Youth Education in Shoplifting, or “Y.E.S.,” and is much different from Teen Court. This program is based in 12 hours of educational instruction, focusing upon the negative effects of shoplifting.

To get involved in the Teen Court program you can call or email Lee Leftwich. [email protected]
tel:(304) 253-7500

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