North County Teen Court
Serving Sangamon County Illinois
A PROGRAM FOR TODAY'S YOUTH:
Teen Court is designed to develop respect for authority and the community and to stop potential delinquent behavior in teens. The program capitalizes on positive peer influence. Teen Court's jury members, bailiffs and clerks are all teens.
"Adolescents crave peer acceptance and peer approval. The teen court process takes advantage of this naturally powerful incentive. Just an association with deviant or delinquent peers is commonly associated with the onset of delinquent behavior, pressure from pro-social peers may propel youth toward law-abiding behavior." January 2011 NYSBS Journal
Interested teens must submit a North County Teen Court application to be considered. The applications will be reviewed by the Coordinator and the teen will be contacted to join the court. New jurors are not typically added mid school year. Training sessions are held each year in August.
Through the Teen Court program, our goal is to fully implement a model
program using youth and adult volunteers as a continuing alternative
to formal juvenile probation processing and formal juvenile court proceedings.
Teen Court represents a positive alternative to the juvenile justice system and holds juvenile offenders accountable for a sentence imposed by a jury of their peers. By offering this alternative system, we allow youth who have made poor decisions an opportunity to recognize their mistakes and learn valuable lessons. At the same time participating youth increase respect for themselves, schools, law enforcement, the community and the legal system.
Our biggest goal is to educate youth who make unfavorable decisions to be accountable for their actions in an effort to prevent any further involvement in the juvenile justice system.
Our purpose is also to educate and motivate teen volunteers. Teen volunteers are able to participate in an actual court setting and have a positive impact on their peers, while providing a valuable service to the community, and in doing so, gain valuable experience for their futures. Teen Court serves as a prevention program for teen volunteers as well as Teen Court defendants.
North County Teen Court was founded in 2006 by Sherman resident Mr. Robert Hoffek and Mr. Philip Brown, retired Police Officer and Deputy Director. Mr. Hoffek believed in working with youth and volunteered as a Youth Mentor prior to the creation of the North County Teen Court. Besides being instrumental in creating the North County Teen Court, Mr. Hoffek served as the first Executive Director of the North County Teen Court Board of Directors from 3/2006-3/2012.
Mrs. Kristi Martin followed Mr. Hoffek as Executive Director from 3/2012-9/2014. In September 2014, Mrs. Karen Hoffek accepted the position of Executive Director.
The Executive Board meets annually to discuss policy and procedures regarding Teen Court operations. The Board is assisted by a Citizens Advisory Board also made up of community officials and citizen volunteers. There are no paid positions.
The North County Teen Court currently serves four communities in Sangamon County, IL: Williamsville, Riverton, Spaulding and Dawson.
The Police Departments from three communities are involved with the program. Officer Ryan Harmon has been a blessing to the program. He goes above and beyond to help court run smoothly.
North County Teen Court began taking cases in August 2006. Teen Court is a volunteer program comprised of high school students who serve as jurors, licensed attorneys who serve as moderators, parent coordinators who serve as liaisons for the Executive Board and mentors who assist students as needed.
As of October 2016, the North County Teen Court has processed 590 juveniles ranging in age from 10-18. Juvenile offenders have completed 6,680 community service hours. There are currently 240 community service hours in progress.
Offenses for which juveniles have come to the Teen Court are: reckless driving, underage drinking, illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia, controlled substances, battery, assault, criminal damage to property, vandalism, burglary, runaways, criminal trespassing, curfew violation, truancy, disorderly conduct and traffic violations.
A parent must accompany the juvenile in court. Each juvenile who goes before the Teen Court pays $25. This money goes into the scholarship fund. The Scholarship program began in 2007 with awards of $250 to a senior court member. Since 2007 the North County Teen Court Scholarship program has provided Scholarships to 17 well deserving students totaling $8,750. Applicants must have served at least two years on the teen court to apply.
North County Teen Court is a member of the Illinois Youth Court Association sponsored by the Illinois Attorney General. The North County Teen Court is NON-FOR-PROFIT ORGANIZATION as well as a 501(c)(3) administered by the Executive Board made up of three Police Departments, court moderators and community members from six partnering communities.
The North County Teen Court is funded by the generosity of the local
communities Village Boards, various organizations and individuals who believe
in our mission and our vision. These donations have allowed for the purchase of
items necessary to operate the North County Teen Court such as: computers,
printers and office supplies as well as shirts and refreshments for the Teen
Court, an annual Christmas party for the jurors, as well as scholarships.
As a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization, North County Teen Court qualifies to receive tax deductible bequests, devices, transfers or gifts under Section 2055, 2106, or 2522. Please consider supporting our vision to divert teens from the juvenile justice system and to be a strong voice for troubled youth and families by making a donation. Your gift will go a long way toward helping us help youth.