The Baltimore City Teen Court, (BCTC) is entering its eighteenth year of operation and has diverted over 2,571 youth from the Department of Juvenile Services. BCTC has provided service learning opportunities for more than 900 Baltimore City middle and high school youth. There are several workable models of Teen Court including Adult –Judge, Youth-Judge, Youth Tribunal and Peer Jury. BCTC uses the Peer Jury model, where adults serve as the judge, and youth volunteers serve as bailiffs, jurors, and clerks. The youth jurors hear the facts, question the respondent, and deliberate in order to determine appropriate sanctions, which most often include Teen Court jury duty, community service, essays, anger management, continuing education seminars or other therapeutic sessions and letters of apology to the victim or family members affected.
Considered an alternative to the traditional juvenile justice system and school disciplinary code, Teen Court is offered to young offenders who have been charged with misdemeanor offenses (e.g. , shoplifting, loitering, disorderly conduct, second degree assault) or felony “light” cases ( unauthorized use of a vehicle, a passenger in a stolen vehicle). Our cases are referred to us by Baltimore City Police or School Police, State’s Attorney’s Office, Department of Juvenile Services, and the Juvenile Court system. BCTC utilizes the diversion, along with leadership development and education, to teach youth about the law and increase respect for the justice system. BCTC emphasizes self-accountability, community restitution, and positive peer influence for youth respondents and volunteers.
Baltimore City Teen Court sessions are held every two weeks at the Eastside District Court. It runs all year, typically handling between 10 and 12 cases per session. BCTC is managed by the Citizenship Law Related Education Program. More information can be found about the organization and its other programs here.