One hundred teens have bypassed hefty fines by participating in a program aimed at reducing the number of juvenile crimes in Allen.
Allen Teen Court is an optional program that enlists local teens to serve as prosecutors, defense attorneys and jurors for cases involving teenage speeding, underage drinking and other Class C citations. Teenage defendants who opt to participate are sentenced to community service, rather than paying costly fines.
The program relaunched in February after an 18-month hiatus. So far, more than 40 students have trained to act as jurors and attorneys under the supervision of Allen Municipal Court staff.
“The program is really thriving,” said Judge Cynthia Porter Gore.
In fact, Teen Court has become so popular that staff decided to offer a spinoff: Teen Court Bench. Instead of asking teens to serve as jurors, teenage attorneys present cases directly to a judge. Later this fall, Teen Court will partner with criminal justice students at Allen High School to train teen bailiffs.
“That means the officer I have acting as a bailiff can focus solely on court security. The teen bailiffs will organize the jurors and accommodate them,” said Judge Gore.
Allen Mayor Stephen Terrell celebrated the program’s success by proclaiming August 22 as “Teen Court Day.” Learn more about Teen Court or apply to participate.