New class begins on Nov. 5
Call Teen Court office at 486-3550 for more information.
Teen-agers sometimes make poor choices that get them into trouble. If those choices deal with illegal activities, they could be in big trouble.
Kodiak has a program designed to prevent “dumb kid things” and other minor legal infractions from sending a kid to jail.
It’s called Kodiak Teen Court, and it is alternative form of justice especially designed to help young offenders learn and grow from their experience.
Like the traditional legal justice system, Teen Court has judges and attorneys, but unlike the tradition system, all the positions are filled by teenagers who have been specially trained for their volunteer jobs.
Solomon Himelbloom is a senior at Kodiak High School. He is a Teen Court judge and the president of the non-profit’s board of directors.
“Part of our responsibility is to take cases of minors or people under the age of 18. These minors have committed a crime which can range from alcohol and tobacco to vandalism and shoplifting. And our main goal in Teen Court is to use a model called restorative justice in a way to have a positive impact on the community. But also have the youth defendant learn from their action.”
The restorative justice model is based on three key aspects–accountability, community protection, and competency development. The program, and punishments for offenders, follow from there.
Himelbloom said typical punishment for offenders include things such as community service, apologizing to the victim of the crime, and attending an actual adult court hearing.
Jacob Dunlop is another Teen Court judge. He’s a junior at Kodiak High School.
“So an essay might fall into competency development because now they’re growing as a person and seeing the kind of impacts they have on their community, and kind of just transforming their character.”
Both students say Teen Court is a great learning experience for both the offender and those involved in the program. The class which trains students about the legal system and prepares them to eventually be part of a legal team in Teen Court begins on Nov. 5. “Introduction to Law and Kodiak Teen Court” is a Monday, Wednesday evening class that runs through the middle of December.
For more information on registering for the class contact the Teen Court office at 486-3550.