[b]Teens Face Jury of Their Peers [/b] Three out of four first-time juvenile offenders in Santa Barbara commit drug-related offenses. To target this population, Judge Thomas Adams, in collaboration with the County of Santa Barbara Juvenile Courts, Santa Barbara Juvenile Probation Services and community-based organizations, established the Santa Barbara Teen Court in 1993. Administered by the Santa Barbara Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse ( SADA), Teen Court is a diversion from prosecution program for first-time offenders. The Teen Court jury does not determine guilt or innocence, but consequences for the juvenile’s actions. The juvenile must admit guilt to the committing offense to participate in the program. It is an opportunity for juveniles to take responsibility for their actions while avoiding a juvenile record. Teens throughout the county volunteer to serve as master jurors, bailiffs, case reporters or court interpreters. Although county judges preside over hearings, all decisions are made by teens. Sentencing options determined by the peer jury may include: jury duty, community service, fines, restitution, education programs, counseling, letters of apology, drug testing or treatment. The goal of the program is for teens to hold each other accountable for their illegal actions, to involve the offender’s parents throughout the entire process, and not only to address the crime but also to help these youth in all areas where they may be experiencing difficulties. Since its inception, Teen Court has served more than 2,000 teens throughout the county, and more than 90 percent have fulfilled their contracts. In addition, less than 20 percent of program graduates have had further contact with law enforcement-far less than the national recidivism rate for first-time juvenile offenders. To learn more, call (805) 963-1433.Criminal Justice of Probation, Public Health and Social Services and five private organizations and schools. Using an interdisciplinary approach, MISC staff from the partner entities provide intensive outreach, alcohol and drug services, and family mentoring. Since the inception of MISC, 34 percent of participants have improved their scholastic performance and 24 percent have reported a decrease in severe emotional and behavioral problems. After participating in MISC, youth with a history of criminal behavior are 68 percent less likely to be referred to the criminal justice system for felonies, misdemeanors or other violations. Moreover, federal and state group home expenditures have decreased by $2 million. MISC receives funding from the Center for Mental Health Services. To find out more, call (805) 681-5220. Source: http://www.drugstrategies.org/santabarbara/site/santab_06.html

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