Data reported to the FBI each year by thousands of police departments across the country shows the percentage of youths taken into custody who were referred to adult courts has dropped from 8% in 2010 to 2% in 2019. Instead, more teenagers are being sent to juvenile courts or community programs that steer them to counseling, peer mediation and other services aimed at keeping them out of trouble.
A northern Indiana school board is exploring the idea of adding a "Teen Court" for students who get in minor trouble.
For any lawyers interested in taking a turn on the bench, a nonprofit that provides services for troubled teens needs attorneys to serve as volunteer judges for its Teen Court programs in the Indianapolis area. The judges oversee the proceedings and counsel the first-time offenders.
The Teen Court program in Lake County, along with others in northwest Indiana, gives teens an alternative to the traditional trajectory of juvenile justice. The program uses a novel approach in which a jury of teens decides the punishment for peers who are diverted from the juvenile justice system.
A judge in Niles, Michigan, has ordered resentencing for a 19-year-old from Indiana who had to register as a sex offender in two states because he had consensual sex with a 14-year-old Michigan girl he met online who lied about her age.
A special Tippecanoe County Courthouse program has jurors, lawyers and defendants, but they're all younger than 18.
The 2012 Impact Fund grant from the Indianapolis Bar Foundation has been given to Reach For Youth – Teen Court to support a part-time teen court coordinator.