Teen Court kicks off new program with inaugural hearing enactment
QUINCY, IL —
Teen court is now back in session in Adams County after a 16-year absence.
First time, non-violent juvenile offenders who plead guilty to a crime can now be part of the Teen Court program.
It's a partnership between Quincy University and the Adams County States Attorney's office that provides an alternative approach to juvenile justice.
Wednesday night, the teen court kicked off its inaugural hearing with an enactment.
“Good evening this is the opening session of the Adams County Teen Court,” Professor Clarice Hetzler said.
Teenagers from across Adams County got a firsthand look at what a court hearing looked like in the John 'Pete' Brown Mock Trial Room at Quincy University.
"The cool thing about teen court is all of the participants are teens,” Adams County Assistant State’s Attorney Jamie Friye said. “They act as the defense attorney, the prosecutor, the jury the bailiff, the clerk. The only adult we have in the process is the judge."
Quincy High sophomore Drae Humphrey wants to be a defense attorney.
"It comes with a lot of responsibility doing stuff like this and seeing what other teens go through and giving them a fair chance,” Humphrey said.
Humphrey believes his role as a volunteer will give back to his peers in the community.
"I know some students that have been in trouble before and this will change their act and help them think a different way,” Humphrey said.
Friye said common cases that will be heard in youth court include retail theft, criminal damage, and unlawful consumption of alcohol.
"The City of Quincy also will be referring some of the cases that they would normally have ordinance violations,” Friye explained. “Which would include things like cannabis offenses, their alcohol tickets and things of that nature."
Friye said the program is a way to deter teenagers from breaking the law.
"Hopefully that involvement when they have to become before a jury of their peers and explain what they did and accept responsibility will deter them from committing future offenses,” Friye said.
Teen Court will be held at QU the first and third Wednesdays of each month.