“I guess this is my golden opportunity – my opportunity to change someone else’s life, while changing mine.”
– Darryl Ballard, former Teen Court defendant.
What is Teen Court?
Rochester Teen Court is a diversion program delivered by The Center for Youth for nonviolent offenders, ages 16-18. Defendants participate voluntarily in this sentencing court after accepting responsibility for their actions in a traditional courtroom. Local judges preside over the proceedings, and teen jurors recommend sentencing. Youth volunteers also serve as attorneys and court personnel.
Teen Court’s main objective is to ensure a teen’s first encounter with the criminal justice system is his or her last. The program is designed to:
- provide education to youth on the judicial system and engage them in the process;
- promote accountability for actions;
- and reinforce responsibility to society through community service and educational sentencing.
Youth Volunteer Opportunities
Youth in Monroe County, ages 14 to 18 years old, are eligible to participate in Teen Court as volunteers. Local attorneys in private and public practice also volunteer to help train youth participants, offer on-site assistance during cases and provide educational post-hearing feedback.
Youth volunteers serve in the following roles:
- Defense attorneys
- Prosecuting attorneys