MANATEE CO., FL. (WWSB) - For many counties in the state, first-time juvenile offenders who admit guilt of non violent misdemeanor offenses may be heard by a jury of their peers instead of going up in front of a judge.
"i believe it saves the taxpayers quite a bit of money because the cost of a child coming through our program versus going through the juvenile justice system is greatly reduced."
Teen Court Supervisor Susan Lockliear says it's these youth volunteers that fill the crucial roles of prosecutor and defending attorneys, not only training kids in a courtroom setting, but in life as well. Lockliear says, "just having to get up and prepare a case and think on your feet and question a child in a court room in front of people that they don't know. It's helped tremendously."
And now teen court is looking for more volunteers to complete a day long training session to be in the program.
"it's amazing to me how often children can tell when other children are being truthful. when a child is up on the stand and is testifying about what happened in their case, If they're being less than truthful, the jury will know it."
A program that Lockliear says is beneficial for kids being sentenced.
"one of the main components of the sentence is community services, so they are required to perform comm service.
And kids on the other side as well.
"it gives the kids a place to go, it helps them with public speaking even if they have no plans on becoming an attorney."