Indiana News

Teens Sentence Their Peers in Tippecanoe County Program

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) _ The jurors, lawyers and defendants in a special Tippecanoe County Courthouse program are all under age 18.
 
The (Lafayette) Journal & Courier reports that the program aims to keep young people who commit relatively minor offenses out of the criminal justice system by helping them to learn from their experiences.
 
Defendants at teen court admit guilt and are sentenced by their peers instead of participating in a conventional trial. The only adult participants are volunteer attorneys who act as judges.
 
The defendants are typically first-time, low-risk offenders. 
 
Sentences generally include jury duty and community service, sometimes a letter of apology. Defendants who fail to fulfill their sentences can be referred to the formal juvenile court system.
 
The program was founded by the Bauer Family Resources community organization in 1998.

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