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IBA: Indianapolis Bar Foundation Grant Supports Expansion Of In-School Teen Court

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By Andrew L. Campbell, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP
 

andrew campbell Campbell

Last year, a teenager was arrested with paint on his hands that matched the color of freshly painted graffiti on a nearby church. As the teen made his way through the traditional juvenile justice system, his family explained that they were having difficulty communicating with the teen and that there had been fights and bouts of depression. The statistics showed that the likelihood of recidivism was nearly 40 percent.

Fortunately, the teen was diverted from the traditional juvenile justice system to Reach for Youth’s Teen Court, an alternative program where the teen’s peers served as legal counsel and members of the jury. A local attorney presided over a hearing, during which the teen offered his story, and his family and members of the church that he vandalized also spoke. After some pointed questioning, the jury began to understand, better than most adults, the teen’s motivations.

He was nevertheless held to account: 24 hours of community service, 16 hours of restitution toward removing the paint, a written apology to the church, and service to the church’s youth program. The teen was also ordered to attend a workshop on conflict management and serve three sessions iba pullouton a Teen Court jury. Since the hearing, there have been no further incidents and, though his jury appointed service is done, he continues to volunteer with the church youth program. As a participant in Teen Court, the statistics say that the likelihood of recidivism was cut by nearly 25 percent.

As the recipient of the 2012 Impact Fund grant of $35,000 from the Indianapolis Bar Foundation, Reach for Youth expanded its successful Teen Court program to include an in-school Teen Court project aimed at halting disruptive behavior before it escalates to criminal activity requiring expulsion. Decatur Middle School, Warren Central High School, and Stony Brook Middle School were among the first participants.

“In a very short amount of time, these schools have witnessed a true culture shift,” reports Reach for Youth’s President and CEO, Michelle Study-Campbell. “By holding students accountable to a jury of their true peers, not simply adult disciplinarians, and imposing constructive rather than simply punitive sentences, the result has been a marked shift in the attitudes of student-participants toward their school community.”

As a result, teachers have reported decreased classroom interruptions, improved behavior, and rising grade points. The students, both participants and offenders, are learning about public service and giving back to their fellow students.

The Foundation’s support has allowed Teen Court to support a part-time social worker to coordinate the in-school project. As a result, Teen Court will continue in Decatur and Warren Townships, and will expand to Irvington Prep Charter School, Bell East Middle School, and Lawrence Township in the coming months. Teen Court is always recruiting attorney-volunteers to serve as judges, and more information can be found online at www.yourteencourt.org.

Through April 1, 2013, the Indianapolis Bar Foundation will be accepting grant applications for its 2013 Impact Fund Grant of $35,000. The Impact Grant will be awarded to a non-profit organization, like Reach for Youth, that seeks to advance the administration of justice and an understanding of the law through philanthropy, education, and service. More information about the Indianapolis Bar Foundation and its grant making can be found online at www.indybar.org/about/bar-foundation/.•

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  1. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  2. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  3. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  4. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  5. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

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