Teen Court and Work & Earn It are programs that are funded by the North Carolina Juvenile Crime Prevention Council (JCPC), the United Way of Forsyth County, and the YWCA. The programs are designed to work with youth and their families to ensure youth get back on track after committing minor first-time offenses. Youth are referred to the programs by arresting officer or school resource officer.
Teen Court: Through the program, juvenile first-time offenders are given a chance to turn their lives around and avoid a criminal record. The program conducts court every other week for approximately ten months per year at the Forsyth County Courthouse and is designed to lessen the load on the juvenile court system, give practical legal experience to students who are interested in law, and help the young offenders get back on the right track. Teen Court gives first time juvenile offenders the opportunity to perform community service and give back to their community. The target population for the Teen Court Program is youth between the ages of 9 and 15 who are first time offenders or those who have been diverted from Juvenile Court.
84 teens went to Teen Court, a chance to get back on track after a minor first offense
Juvenile first-time offenders are referred to the program by the arresting officer. They are chosen to have the opportunity to participate in the program based on the nature of the crime they committed and the circumstances surrounding it. It is designed to keep young people who have made a mistake in judgment and are not criminals out of the juvenile justice system and give them a second chance. In each case, guilt has already been admitted by the defendant who has agreed to abide by the sentence of the teen court jury.
Teen court would not exist without many dedicated volunteers. The Program Manager, a YWCA employee, coordinates intake, schedules teen court and provides life skills lessons designed to help the teens make better choices and become accountable for their actions. They are tried by a jury of their peers and later serve as jurors for other youthful offenders. Wake Forest Law School students serve as mentors, and defense and prosecuting attorneys for the youth. Local attorneys and judges serve as judges, emphasizing the importance of the program. All proceedings are held in the Hall of Justice where actual court cases are heard.
Work & Earn It: This program is under the YWCA Youth Intervention Services. It provides opportunities for court referred youth to fulfill their terms of probation or diversion in regard to community service/monetary restitution. In Forsyth County, we have a higher number of youth on the verge of associating with delinquent behavior which shows the need for Work & Earn It Program. Juveniles in the Work & Earn It program have committed offenses that they could be incarcerated for. However, they are referred to the program by Juvenile Court Counselors in order to pay restitution or perform community service. The target population for the Work & Earn It Restitution Program is youth between 9 and 17 who are on probation or who are diverted from Juvenile Court.
144 juvenile offenders avoided entry to adult judicial system through this program
The Program Manager places the juveniles in local non-profits where they are able to earn money to repay their victims or perform community service as a part of their structured sentences. Local non-profits and governmental agencies collaborate by providing locations for the participants to perform their community service. The youth not only compensate their victims, but also learn valuable vocational skills.
Youth perform community service along with job and life skills workshops, and are held accountable for their actions as well as encourages them not to repeat delinquent behavior.
This program is the only program of its nature in Forsyth County that provides juveniles with these opportunities. The Forsyth County Court System recognizes the effectiveness of this program and refer youth regularly. In fact, 100% of our clients are referred by the court system. Clients work at local non-profit agencies to complete community service or restitution requirements. Youth who participate not only fulfill their court sentence, but also are returned to the community with enhanced job and life skills that they would not have otherwise.
The goal for both programs is to change behavior patterns and help youth understand the long-term effects of their negative behaviors. We seek the following for youth participating in the programs:
- Reduce specific problem behaviors presented at referral
- Complete the program with no additional adjudications
- Have no new complaints in the 12 months following program completion
The staff of these two well-respected juvenile crime prevention programs, Teen Court and Work & Earn It, are located at the Best Choice Center. The YWCA collaborates with a number of organizations to provide these programs and services. The organizations include the following:
- Department of Public Safety Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice Community Programs
- WSFC Court Counselors
- WSFC School System
- Wake Forest Law School
Hear More about Teen Court