Teen Court is the only program in Rutherford County that specifically receives referrals for first-time offenders with the intent to reduce recidivism through restorative justice. It addresses the needs of the juvenile court system by reducing the amount of juveniles actively on probation, and the needs of youth by working with clients on moderate to serious behavior issues and poor decision making.
Clients are given the opportunity to take responsibility for their offense by participating in court proceedings held by trained youth and adult volunteers. Teen Court does not decide guilt or innocence but centers on lowered recidivism through restorative justice. Sanctions for clients include community service, projects, and interactive journaling
Who is eligible for Teen Court?
Teen Court accepts and serves first-time juvenile offenders between the ages of 11 and 16 who have admitted guilt to their offense and voluntarily agree to the program. Clients come from all areas of Rutherford County are referred from a Division of Juvenile Justice intake court counselor.
Rutherford County Teen Court recruits and trains youth between the ages of 13 and 18 to be volunteers in the program. All youth volunteers must complete an application, attend training, adhere to a dress code, and agree to treat each hearing with complete confidentiality. Any volunteer breaking confidentiality by discussing a teen court case outside of the hearing will be immediately removed as a volunteer in the program.
All youth volunteers wishing to become peer attorneys must attend the attorney training, which is a 5-hour additional training, and pass the Teen Court bar exam with a grade of at least 70%.
Adult volunteers are recruited as judges and as additional help during Teen Court hearings. All adult volunteers must fill out a volunteer application and have a background check and fill out a confidentiality and conflict of interest agreement.
Rutherford County Teen Court is held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month at 5:30pm in the County Commissioner’s Boardroom Rutherford County Courthouse Annex, 289 N. Main Street Rutherfordton, NC 28139.
If you have questions about the Rutherford County Teen Court program or want to become a volunteer, please contact:
Mary Richardson, Rutherford County Teen Court Coordinator, at (828)767-4184 or firstname.lastname@example.org