Teen Court

Teen Court is a program which diverts juvenile offenders from the Probation Department and traditional juvenile sanctions. It is designed for first time offenders ages 10-17 who plead guilty to non-violent offenses such as shoplifting, theft, resisting law enforcement and burglary.Teen Court youth volunteers serve on juries to constructively sentence these offenders and hold them accountable to the community for their unlawful behavior. Sentences are usually a combination of community service, restitution, apologies to victims, essays, counseling and future service as a Teen Court juror.Teen Court defendants who successfully complete their sentence within 90 days after the hearing have the offense "redlined" on their probation record so that it cannot be used against them in the future.Teen Court provides the volunteers with education, training and "hands-on" participation in the juvenile justice system. This experience enhances their formal education in government, promotes respect for the law and encourages volunteering in the community.

La Porte Teen Court started in 1988, the first in Indiana and the third in the nation. Michigan City Teen Court soon followed in 1993. Since its inception, more than 8,000 La Porte County youth volunteers have participated as jurors, attorneys, bailiffs, clerks and judges. Nearly 2,000 first time juvenile offenders have been sentenced in Teen Court to constructive sanctions, with a re-arrest rate of under 10%. Defendants have performed an average of 1,200 hours per year of community service for nonprofit organizations in La Porte County.

Volunteers are students in 6-12th grades, enrolled in any of the public and private school systems in La Porte County. Volunteers are required to:
- attend an orientation and training session
- observe one Teen Court session prior to participation in an actual proceeding
- attend the hearings which are held in the evening at local courtrooms for grades 6-8
  & for grades 9-12
- sign an oath of confidentiality before each hearing

To volunteer, mail or bring the below volunteer application to:
YSB BBBS of La Porte County
906 Michigan Avenue
La Porte, IN 46350
YSB BBBS of La Porte County
228 W Fourth Street
Michigan City, IN 46360

Teen Court Volunteer Application

For more information about Teen Court email bonnie@mcteencourt.org.