Charles Town is taking teenagers charged with their first misdemeanor out of the court system. Under a new Teen Court program, teens will be tried and prosecuted by their peers. An attorney will serve as the judge. It's exactly what it sounds like. Teens are tried and prosecuted by their own peers.
Friday 5 News went out to Marion County to see how people felt about the idea. They already have something similar of their own.
"They are misdemeanors that are committed by a youthful offender. A lot of the cases are things like tobacco violations, possession, underage drinking, shoplifting, and things of that nature. They are all misdemeanors. Nothing violent or anything like that," said Jessica Furgason, Teen Court Coordinator.
Even though the teens take on the roles of the court, they're given an outline to follow during the trial with an attorney presiding over the
"In a situation where we believe that the students have abused their discretion than I would certainly have the opportunity to intervene or
whoever the judge was at that time would have the opportunity to intervene," said Judge Aloi, Marion County.
Local students can volunteer for the program and as law enforcement puts it, it's a great way for them to learn the judicial system.
"It gives them the opportunity that there are rules you have to follow. Some kids have taken interest, whether they want to be a police officer, an attorney, or a judge. So they get to see both sides of that," said Sheriff Joe Carpenter, Marion County.
Community members feel the same way.
"I think that they will be better able to assess the pressures that they're going through. They're going to get better treatment according to
their needs," said Ken Lindsey, Marion County.
Officials truly believe this program can help juveniles head in the right direction.
"With a first time offense, if they complete the program, their case is completely dismissed and their file is destroyed. So they don't have that on their record. so it is kind of like a one chance opportunity for them to correct the wrong and hopefully they don't commit in the future," Furgason.