Cabell trying to start Teen Court again

By Chris Dickerson | Dec 1, 2010

HUNTINGTON -- Cabell County is trying to revive its Teen Court.

Last week, the Cabell County Commission unanimously passed a measure to add a $5 fee to every traffic citation to provide funds needed to open the Teen Court.

Huntington City Council already passed a similar measure tacking on $5 to every traffic citation.

Supporters say teen court provides an important civics lesson while offering a different avenue in fighting juvenile crime. The court would consist of an adult judge working with teen volunteers, who stand in as prosecutor, defense attorney and jury.

The court would consider minor violations, such as indecent exposure, destruction of property, disruption of school process, shoplifting, disorderly conduct, joy riding, trespassing and alcohol-related offenses.

Teen jurors will hand down punishments should there be a conviction.

According to The (Huntington) Herald-Dispatch, Cabell Family Court Judge Patricia Keller told commissioners those sanctions could include community service, restitution and letters of apology.

"The slogan I really like -- 'It's where teens rule,'" Keller said. "It's another tool in the box for dealing with juveniles who get into trouble."

Commission President Scott Bias said he thinks the court is important.

"This is excellent," he told The Herald-Dispatch. "The younger they are, the sooner you get them back on the right path, the better."

Keller said Huntington's fee so far has raised $2,400 for the program.

The teenage defendant also will pay $25 for his or her case to be heard in Teen Court, as Keller explained it is not a mandatory option.

A court official said teenagers who opt out of Teen Court will have their case processed through standard Juvenile Court process.

Teen Court has been tried before in Cabell County, but dissolved when funding disappeared.

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