FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WVNS) — Peer pressure. It often leads teens down a path of destruction, but some believe positive peer pressure has the reverse effect and is just as powerful. Fayette County commissioners are using the power of positive peer pressure to keep local teens on the right track.
The 2014 Pittsburgh Youth Study found more than 50 percent of juvenile offenders continue to offend in adulthood. The same study found some interventions with juvenile delinquents ages 14-17 resulted in lower re-arrest rates; interventions like Teen Court programs.
With teen court its non-violent offenses that just back up the court system It’s a tool for us to use to try to keep these teens out of the system and make them good productive citizens,” said Fayette County Sheriff, Mike Fridley.
Teen court is an alternative to the formal juvenile court process for accepted cases. Fayette County teens act as defense and prosecuting attorneys, jury, clerk and bailiff. Juvenile offenders are referred by Circuit Court and Fayette County Schools.
“When they come to teen court they have to already plead no contest to the charge,” said Fridley. “Then the teens involved will give them their sentence.”
Sentences are based on restorative justice principals, or righting their wrongs with community service or educational activities. Teen volunteers, like 17-year-old Cy Persinger, will take part in determining those sentences and making sure juvenile offenders follow through.
“Nobody deserves to be written off after they’ve made one mistake everyone deserves to have a second chance,” said Persinger.
Fayette County commissioners signed the resolution to fund teen court in the fall. On Thursday, Jan 16, 2020 16 adult and 31 teen volunteers showed up for training.
“We should all want to be able to help other people and we should all want to have a impact on our community,” Perisinger said.
Teen Court coordinator, Diane Callison, said they hope to have their first mock trial in early March, but adult volunteers are still needed to help the program run smoothly.
“We still need all the help we can get in any capacity that anyone thinks they can serve,” Callison said.
For information on the program and how to volunteer contact Diane Callison at 304-574-4338 or firstname.lastname@example.org