Bryan Talks About Recreating Teen Court

By  | 

It would certainly be a people's court, but the people in this proposal are teens.

The Bryan city council was solidly behind the concept of a teen court in their meeting this afternoon. It would see teens acting as judge and jury for minor crimes committed by their peers.

A $5 fee would be added to all fines issued by the Bryan municipal court to help pay for the concept, along with small costs for the participants.

Those responsible for the proposal think kids holding kids accountable is a powerful concept.

"Peer pressure will have a lot to do with it," said Judge Latham Boone with the municipal court. "I think peer pressure will help the kids see that misconduct affects the class, affects other students, and the fact that they all are seeing that will, hopefully, have a good effect on the students as a whole."

Judge Boone told the council that the goal of the teen court is to decriminalize what he calls, "juvenile activity" that seen more and more in courtrooms.

"the zero tolerance procedures that we have in the state now do not give the schools very much flexibility in handling juvenile cases," Boone said. "As a result, this will allow certain cases to be handled there at their level."

Class C misdemeanors would be handled in the court. Under that category are such crimes as minors in possession of illegal substances, theft less than $50 and some traffic offenses.

The punishments handed down by the court would include community service, educational classes and jury service. If the punishment is completed in a timely manner, the citation may be wiped from the teen's record.

Bryan ISD has heard the proposal, and those presenting it are hoping the city can partner with the district on the idea.

The city council will consider an ordinance to create the program at their next meeting.

College Station, Navasota and Brenham all have teen courts. Bryan did in the mid-1990s, though those proposing the new idea say the old court was not structured as well. They also say the partnership with BISD would be a better recruiting tool for participants. Service learning credit would be part of the project.