Teen Court

Sofia Carrillo, Comic Artist

In case you are a juvenile offender of minor crimes, you are offered an alternative option to a hearing for your offenses: teen court.


Teen court is a PSC, otherwise known as a problem-solving court, meant to help at the root of the problem, to prevent the offender from relapsing into criminal activity. Run by youth volunteers, teen court aims to approach the issue from a different angle, allowing local youth to get a glimpse of what civil duty is.


“Teen Court offers valuable lessons about how the courts operate and what it is like to be a part of the justice system,” the club president, Nilah Placide, 12, said. “I have an interest in studying law so this experience gives me a taste of what I will be doing in future.”


But the club goes beyond helping just the juvenile offenders with resolving their problems; everyone outside of the program benefits, as well.


“The public benefits from Teen Court as well because it enables the juvenile justice system to focus its resources on higher risk offenders,” Placide stated, “[It] educates the public about the work of the court and helping students to get back on the right track in life.”


Additionally, it allows both juvenile offenders and volunteers to reevaluate what they do.


“It helps local youth realize that we have to accept responsibility for our actions,” Lizette Chavez, 12, said, “and it helps those in the club come out realizing that what we do does affect others.”


Mr. Nevarez, the club’s adviser, values it for its hands-on approach.


“It introduces our students to the American justice system in a way that goes beyond observation,” Nevarez said. “Student jurors directly participate in real cases and learn how to resolve juvenile infractions through creative and character building solutions.”


Teen Court began last year at Downey after the Downey Superior Court approached the school to bring the program here. Currently, Downey’s Teen Court is still in its beginning stages of organization, but the student officers have already been selected. Teen Court meets on Wednesdays after school in Mr. Nevarez’s room, B216, and in co-adviser Mr. Broun’s room, B-211. To keep up to date with teen court, text 81010 their Remind, @bobloblaw.