The City of Sumter Teen Court is a diversionary program that focuses on first time juvenile offenders of non-violent crimes. Teen Courts - also known as peer, youth, and school courts, are programs in which youth sentence their peers for minor misdemeanor offenses and problem behavior. Teen Courts are one of the fastest growing crime prevention and intervention programs in the nation. They offer a forum for youth and adults to work together to hold young offenders accountable and to address local problems.
Philosophy of Teen Court
The Sumter City Teen Court began in August 1998 to add a new dimension of diversity, accountability, and responsibility to the Juvenile Justice System. The program is specifically designed to address the needs of the first-time misdemeanor offender and his/her family. Through the creation of a Teen Jury Court system, the juvenile offender, his/her parents, and the appropriate community agencies are brought together to determine fair, logical and natural consequences for the juvenile's actions. The purpose and intent of the program is to involve young people in taking responsibility for their actions, and to give the community an active role in dealing with juvenile offenders.
Teen Court Process
- Teen Court Referral
- Intake Interview
- Teen Court Hearing
Prerequisites for Admission to Teen Court
- Only Magistrate Level and Status Offenses
- Must be referred by Law Enforcement, School Districts, Department of Juvenile Justice
- Case reviewed by Teen Court Coordinator
- Must admit guilt
- Must volunteer to participate
- Parents/Guardians must be involved in all aspects
Youths can participate as Prosecuting/Defense Attorneys, Bailiffs, Court Reporters, Jurors, or Local Attorneys who preside over court.
- The jury will determine sentence
- There are minimum and maximum sentencing requirements
- Sentence can be rejected by defendant
Benefits of Teen Court
- After completion of sentence, the youth will have no criminal record
- Reduce the number of cases sent to Family Court
- Allow Family Court to concentrate on more serious offenses
The City of Sumter Teen Court Justice program is recruiting new volunteers. Youth Volunteers serve as Lawyers, Clerks, Bailiffs, or Jurors.
Youth Volunteers must be:
- Ages 10-18
- Enrolled in a public or private school in Sumter, Clarendon, or Lee County.
- Must abide by the rules of the Teen Court program
- Must sign and respect the Oath of Confidentiality
- Must demonstrate maturity, sensitivity and responsibility.
As a volunteer you also must agree to:
- Come to court when it is held
- Conduct yourself in an appropriate manner in school and in court.
- Keep all Teen Court business confidential
- Attend all training sessions.
- Participate to the best of your abilities.
The Courtroom is a place commanding respect from all that participates in its proceedings. A good attitude and a neat appearance contribute positively to that impression. Appropriate attire is expected; no low cut jeans, hats, tank tops, midriff tops, or torn clothing. No sagging pants or excessive jewelry will be allowed in the courtroom. Teen Court prohibits the use of tobacco products, alcoholic beverages, and obscene or profane language while participating in any Teen Court activity.
Confidentiality plays an important part of Teen Court. The confidentiality policy will be emphasized during orientation and throughout the Teen Court process. Participants violating the confidentiality policy will be dismissed from the program.
For More Information
Applications are available from the School Resource Officers at Alice Drive Middle, Bates Middle School, Chestnut Oaks Middle School, and Sumter High School. Others interested in applying may contact:
Teen Court Justice Coordinator
Sumter Police Department
107 East Hampton Avenue
Sumter, SC 29150
Crime victims are covered under the State of South Carolina's Victim/Witness Bill of Rights. Financial assistance is available to help qualified victims with medically related expenses that are not covered by other payment sources. If you have any questions call Ruth Fowler who also serves as the Sumter Police Department's Victim Assistance officer, at 803-436-2723.