“Empowers youth to develop resiliency through inspiration, accountability, and connection to create a stronger community.”
Phone: (719) 475-7815
What is Forge Evolution’s Teen Court Program?
Forge Evolution’s Teen Court Program is a unique and highly successful approach to addressing juvenile crime. This independent non-profit program provides a restorative justice alternative to the regular Municipal Court sentencing for first-time misdemeanor offenses committed by young people between 10 and 19 years of age. The purpose of Teen Court is to hold youth offenders accountable for their actions and assist them in making better life choices through relevant sentencing options.
How Does the Teen Court Program Work?
Defendants who meet the Teen Court guidelines may be referred by Municipal Court. Most Teen Court defendants must plead guilty to their charge and will receive a deferred sentence. The parent or guardian must agree to attend the Teen Court sentencing hearing, which may be in the form of a mediation, a peer panel of student volunteers, or a Teen Court trial in a courtroom with student attorneys. Teen Court charges a fee for participation in the program. Juvenile defendants are judged by a jury of their peers, and through sentences that promote self-esteem and encourage positive life choices, former defendants are more likely to resist opportunities to re-offend in favor of building a more productive life for themselves.
What Types of Sentences Might be Imposed by Teen Court?
Sentences typically include community service hours and participation in a future Teen Court trial as a juror. Sentences may also include restorative justice classes for specific offenses, a life skills class, letters of apology, or restitution to the victim. Parents or guardians are responsible for any fees incurred by the sentencing requirements.
Why Choose Forge Evolution’s Teen Court Program?
Teen Court follows restorative justice principles. The defendant must recognize and accept responsibility for the harm caused by his or her choices and take action to repair the harm. The teen-led sentencing process, together with office staff follow-up, allows for more individual attention for each Teen Court defendant. Because of this, the re-offense rate for juveniles who complete the Teen Court program is 7%, as opposed to 40-50% for similar cases in the regular court system. The traditional justice system creates a pass through mentality, where teens are not given the opportunity to understand the reconcile their behavior. This pass through mentality creates a higher likelihood that they will return to the justice system. Teen Court creates a whole youth approach to help the young person receive services to support them in making better choices and looking to the future instead of their past.