November 21, 2019

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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Teen Court Volunteers Recognized

Teen Court

Many of the volunteers who regularly support the Teen Court program in St. Mary’s County were recognized during a Volunteer Recognition Banquet at Elks Lodge 2092 on June 27, hosted by the Department of Aging and Human Services.

“The banquet was an opportunity to express our appreciation to our partnering agencies for their long-term commitment over the years to develop, strengthen and expand the program as well as recognize our adult and teen volunteers who are so very valuable and important to the continued success of the program,” said Cynthia Brown, human services division manager with the St. Mary’s County Department of Aging and Human Services, in a news release from the county.

This was the first banquet held for the organization since 2012.

The St. Mary’s County Teen Court program was established in 2003 and, to date, has diverted close to 900 teen offenders from the formal juvenile justice system. The program is a partnership that joins St. Mary’s County government, the State’s Attorney’s Office for St. Mary’s County, the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office, and St. Mary’s County Public Schools. It was created to reduce the number of young offenders and educate young people in an actual court environment. Teen Court is a juvenile justice diversion program that offers the first-time misdemeanor offender, between the ages of 11 and 17, and first-time traffic offenders under the age of 18, the opportunity to accept accountability for their minor crimes without having to incur a permanent criminal record or traffic court fines and points.

“Teen Court is a unique voluntary program that allows juvenile respondents to be judged by a jury of their peers. It is truly a program of ‘Teens Helping Teens,” said Gregory Jones, Teen Court coordinator in the news release. “The St. Mary’s County Teen Court Program provides a unique opportunity for teens who make their first really bad decision that results in their getting arrested or charged with a traffic offense, with an opportunity to get a second chance in life. The teen jurors are incredibly insightful and fair to their fellow teens. It is a program that truly works and does make a difference on most of those offenders fortunate enough to have their case diverted to Teen Court.”

Teen Court uses teen volunteers between 11 and 17 to serve on the jury, hear details about the offense, and decide on the appropriate “sanctions” imposed on the offender to help him or her see changes needed to make better decisions. Adult volunteers are always needed to serve as administrative aids, jury monitors, and community judges.

“Our Teen Court program is one the department is very proud of and all the volunteers who make time to help improve the lives of others,” said Lori Jennings-Harris, director of the St. Mary’s County Department of Aging & Human Services, in the release.

Any adult or teen interested in volunteering with Teen Court should contact the Teen Court Coordinator Gregory Jones at 301-475-4200, ext. 71852, or email Gregory.Jones@stmarysmd.com.

 

To learn more about Lexington Park, visit the St. Mary’s County Community Development Corporation’s Leader member page.

St. Mary’s County Community Development Corporation

46940 South Shangri-La Drive, Suite 7

Lexington Park, MD 20653

301-863-7700

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