Blount County Youth Court Kicks Off Year Three

Peterson-3223 Lynn Peterson, was instrumental in founding the youth court program in Blount County.// //

At Monday’s swearing-in ceremony for the third edition of Blount County Youth Court, local legal authorities explained how Youth Court makes a difference for jurors and defendants alike.

“Youth Court is an instrumental part of what we do in juvenile court,” Division II General Sessions Judge Kenlyn Foster told parents and jurors gathered at Blount County Courthouse Monday afternoon. Foster presides over juvenile hearings in Blount County.

“It’s a way for these young people to see that their choices and their recommendations can make a real change in someone else’s life.”

Begun in Blount County in 2013, Youth Court is a Tennessee Bar Association program whereby first-time juvenile offenders accused of nonviolent crimes can choose diversion and face a jury of peers, fellow teens drawn from a pool of jurors representing high schools from across the county.

Jurors meet twice a month, year-round, hearing around four cases each session. They are vested with the power to render a broad range of sentences. But Foster noted that all of their decisions should be governed by the principal of “restorative justice.”

“That means that there should be consequences, but not punishment,” Foster said.

Story by Mike Gibson which was printed on Tuesday, September 29th in The Blount County Daily Times.  Read the full story by clicking link below:

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