Second chance for a clean record in "teen court"

Jun 4, 2014

A teen court program in Detroit works to keep kids out of the juvenile justice system.
Credit Jennifer Guerra

For a kid caught stealing a $30 bracelet from a store,  juvenile court would likely be the next stop.

But a "teen court" program in Detroit gives some teenagers a chance to avoid the juvenile justice system. It's one of about 1,000 programs across the country.

The teen court model still doles out consequences for kids who break the law, but the idea behind it is less about punishment and more about getting kids on the right path. Teenagers are involved in every aspect of the program. They are "lawyers" and "jury members," not just defendants.

Chloe, a defendant, says, "I hope I leave there feeling relieved that I finally got to talk about it."

A study by the non-profit Urban Institute says those who went through teen court were significantly less likely to break the law again, compared to those who went to juvenile court.

Learn more about the students involved in the program and listen to their story at State of Opportunity.

- Moiz Karim, Michigan Radio Newsroom