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The mission of the Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust Youth Development Division is to change the lives of young people by advocating and creating opportunities for youth to develop into responsible citizens.
As Miami-Dade County’s only peer-sanctioning program, Miami-Dade County Teen Court is an alternative sanctioning program for first-time misdemeanor youthful offenders who agree to allow their peers instead of the juvenile justice system determine their sentencing. Through their participation, the program helps decrease juvenile delinquency by interrupting the beginning stages of criminal behavior.
The program has provided youth, volunteers and participants, an opportunity to gain knowledge and experience in a non-traditional judicial process. First-time juvenile misdemeanor offenders (participants) are afforded a sentencing hearing conducted by youth volunteers serving as attorneys, jurors, bailiffs, and clerks.
Some offenses include petit theft, possession of marijuana, disorderly conduct, and trespassing. An adult volunteer, usually an active judge or lawyer, presides as judge over the hearing and a jury of the participant’s peers determines appropriate sanctions.
Once the participants successfully complete program sanctions, they are given the opportunity to have their records expunged. This means that there will be no public record of the offense, thereby providing youth with a second chance.
The program is beneficial to Miami-Dade County. The program:
- Reduces recidivism
- Offers relief to the local juvenile justice system
- Develops a cadre of responsible and knowledgeable citizen
- Encourages collaborative partnerships between youth and the local police departments
How to volunteer for Teen Court
Become a youth volunteer; teens can participate as a defense or prosecuting attorney, juror, clerk, and/or a bailiff. It is a beneficial hands-on experience showing the reality of what happens in a courtroom. This volunteer program is magnificent for teens who are interested in careers associated with the judicial system.
Guide our youth by becoming a volunteer and impact their future and our community in a positive manner. Adults can volunteer as court monitors. If proper requirements are met, an adult with a legal background may volunteer as a judge. This rewarding volunteer experience will make a difference in the life of a youth and set an example for them to follow.
Please download the application form and return the application to the MDEAT main office or the Teen Court office.
Teen Court launches youth entrepreneurship workshop series
Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust (MDEAT)’s Teen Court program recently launched a youth entrepreneurship workshop series to help address the high unemployment rate among teens in the County’s Target Urban Areas (TUAs).
Read more about this program, and former agency intern Zachary Rinkins who now serves as manager of the Youth Entrepreneurship Program, in the latest edition of Teen Court News.
Youth Legal Education Summit
The Youth Legal Education Summit are annual sessions that educate and train youth volunteers in the many facets of the judicial process. Volunteer attorneys will mentor youth in becoming defense and prosecuting attorneys in the areas of legal terminology, courtroom decorum, delivery of opening and closing arguments, cross-examination and many other legal courtroom techniques.
On Aug. 10 - 11, a new wave of high school lawyers were trained at the University of Miami in the 2015 Annual Youth Legal Education Summit. These high school students received a formal training for courtroom trials sanctioned by the program's volunteer training guidelines.
Teen Court presents the Chiefs of Police Summit
The Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust's Teen Court and Youth Action Committee (YAC) hosted the Chiefs of Police Summit on Tuesday, July 23rd at Joseph Caleb Center in Liberty City. The Chiefs of Police Association partnered with Miami-Dade County Teen Court to encourage law enforcement and community youth to attend the summit.
“It was gratifying to see the police officers come together and have a healthy dialogue with the teens,” states Treska V. Rodgers, Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust Board Member/YAC Chair. “It was a start to get the communication channels open between law enforcement and youth. There should be more of these sessions to bridge the gap, and we will assist in scheduling another one of these summits in the future.”
In the midst of standing room only, chiefs of police, police officers, and public officials from across Miami-Dade County gathered together to have an open dialogue with teens. Police officers were able to convey their concerns involving juvenile crimes, and teens were able to express their personal experiences and views with law enforcement.
“This was a great opportunity for the community to come together with law enforcement and discuss current teen matters.” John E. Dixon, Jr., MDEAT Executive Director states, “By informing our community of current teen issues, we can better handle situations that may arise concerning our youth.”
The Youth Entrepreneurship Workshop Series
Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust (MDEAT)’s Teen Court program has a youth entrepreneurship workshop series to help address the high unemployment rate among teens in the County’s Target Urban Areas (TUAs). This economic initiative aims to help reverse that trend by exposing participants to business principles, young and experienced entrepreneurs, and encourage the creation of micro-businesses.
Miami-Dade County Teen Court (M-DCTC) has partnered with Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS). Miami-Dade County Teen Court is a Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust (MDEAT) Initiative, and Miami-Dade County Teen Court’s goal is to help youth stay positively engaged in the public school system and avoid the penal system through providing this new School-Based Referral Process, “Student Court”.
The School-Based Referral component is designed to help empower youth, provide an avenue for schools to address safety issues and create positive learning environments. The program helps students become well-educated citizens; promotes positive peer pressure and fosters character building; fosters critical thinking, problem solving, decision making, and other positive leadership skills among students. This program benefits the school in many ways, such as: improving school safety; discipline options for administration; reduces student’s continuous involvement in school-rule violations.
Student Court is now implemented in 15 senior high schools located in MDEAT TUA. Participating schools should annually process a minimum of 50 student cases for hearings\sanctions. MDEAT has provided the required training for administration, instructional staff and students implementing the program in the following schools (2014-2015).
- Miami Carol City Sr. High School
- Miami Northwestern Sr. High School
- Miami Norland Sr. High School
- Booker T. Washington Sr. High School
- Hialeah-Miami Lakes Sr. High School
- William Turner Tech High School
- South Dade Sr. High School
- Miami Southridge Sr. High School
- Westland Hialeah Sr. High School
- Homestead Sr. High School
- Miami Jackson Sr. High School
- Miami Central Sr. High School
- Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Academy
- South Miami Sr. High School
- Dorothy Wallace Cope Center
Teen Court News
Miami-Dade County Teen Court is proud to present its quarterly newsletter - Teen Court News - which is filled with program information, outreach initiatives, youth activities, volunteer judge bios, teen stats, law facts, first-person experiences from teen volunteers, and much more!
Check out the Spring 2015 Issue of Teen Court News.
Teen Court Locations
Richard E. Gerstein Building Courthouse Museum
1351 N.W. 12th Street Courtroom 1–3
Miami, Florida 33125
South Dade Government Center
10710 S.W. 211th Street
Miami, Florida 33189
North Dade Justice Center
15555 Biscayne Boulevard
Miami, Florida 33160
Thursdays (2nd, 3rd, and 4th of each month)
Hialeah City Hall
501 Palm Avenue Third Floor
Hialeah, Florida 33010
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