Central Teen Court, a program of Capital Area Counseling Service, is a voluntary
diversion program of the Sixth Judicial Circuit. Serving youth mostly from Hughes and Stanley counties, it also receives referrals from surrounding counties. Since July 1, 2018, there have been 39 youth enrolled in the Central Teen Court program, and of those, 23 (59%) have been alcohol or drug related cases.
Matt Schatz, of the Elks Lodge, said the group is committed to promoting positive
youth engagement, and their donation is a way to help fight drug abuse in the local communities.
According to Emily Steffen, program coordinator, Central Teen Court was established in 2002. It is a diversion program offered mainly to first time offenders ages 10-18, who are currently enrolled in an accredited school program. Members of Teen Court — attorneys, jury, bailiff, and clerks — are trained teenage volunteers and returning defendants. They work together to create a legal and binding sentence for the defendant, based on the principles of Restorative Justice. Teen Court currently has eight middle school and high school volunteers, five adult volunteers who fill the position as the Teen Court Judge, and two employees, Steffen, and volunteer engagement specialist Shelby Magorien.
Central Teen Court primarily receives referrals from Hughes and Stanley county State Attorneys, but is a diversion program for the sixth judicial circuit. A variety of cases are processed, including, but not limited to, drug and alcohol related offenses, simple assault, disorderly conduct, disturbance of school, petty theft, and intentional damage to property. Since its establishment, Teen Court has processed over 1,000 cases.
“This generous donation will provide scholarships to youth who have been recommended to complete the Alternatives Youth Diversion Education Program, an eight hour prevention class facilitated to many youth in the program,” Steffen said. “The class provides accurate information about drugs and alcohol, as well as tools to help youth make responsible decisions about behaviors that include alcohol and other drugs. The donation will cover partial costs for several youth to complete the class.”