Restoring Lives Through Alternative Justice
Vanderburgh County Teen Court is a restorative justice-based diversion program that serves first-time juvenile offenders and middle school and high school student volunteers (8th-12th grade). Respondents are sentenced at a hearing of their peers who volunteer to serve as jury members, prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, bailiff, and judge’s assistant and who are mentored by adult attorneys. Teen Court provides respondents and youth volunteers with the mentors, education, tools, and resources to make positive, healthy choices.
YR’s law enforcement and probation partners refer young offenders to Teen Court as a voluntary alternative to the traditional juvenile justice system. Juveniles charged with a low-level offense can forgo the formal hearing and sentencing procedures of juvenile court and participate in a sentencing forum made up of a jury of their peers. Teen Court is not a mock hearing. Youth volunteers take their roles seriously and recognize that it is a privilege and responsibility to participate and to have the opportunity to help a peer.
Teen Court hearings are held on Monday evenings in the Courts Building in the Civic Center Complex.
Ray Dudlo‘s Story
“After moving to Evansville in 2011, I started volunteering with Youth Resources’ Teen Court.
When I sat in on a jury deliberation I was impressed to see the student volunteers take the case so seriously. They took their time to weigh the appropriate response which focused on helping the juvenile offender. As an attorney, I cannot help but notice those student volunteers that really love taking on the attorney and judge roles. So many of the youth volunteers start off timid and uncertain but leave as confident leaders.
I believe Teen Court provides a tremendous positive impact for all the youth that are involved. This program is doing great things for the community and our youth.”
Ray has volunteered with Teen Court since 2011. He practices family law at Stoll Keenon Ogden and is an active volunteer with the Volunteer Lawyer Program. He lives in Evansville with his wife, Trisha, an attorney who also volunteers with Teen Court, and their children.
812-421-0030 ext. 17
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