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Teen Court kicks off new court hearing location at Miami Gardens City Hall

MIAMI (May 26, 2017)

Miami-Dade County Teen Court, a diversion program of Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust (MDEAT), will soon expand its reach into Miami Gardens as a continuation of its efforts to transform the lives of local youth. It has served more than 8,000 juvenile cases since its inception nearly 20 years ago and nearly 100 of those cases alone were in Miami-Dade County Commission districts one and two over the past three years. In addition, the juvenile crime rate in Carol City has increased by over two percent in the past three years, according to MDEAT’s Annual Report Card and Scorecard produced by Florida International University (FIU) Metropolitan Center. A volunteer peer-sanctioning  program aimed at giving youth a second chance, Teen Court has successfully maintained a recidivism rate of less than three percent due to its youth-driven model fueled by high school student volunteers, mentoring adult volunteer judges and a comprehensive array of life skill workshops and counseling services. Four hearing locations have historically served volunteers and at-risk youth throughout Miami-Dade County. Now MDEAT will expand and offer a fifth hearing location based in the City of Miami Gardens at the end of May 2017.

“It is an exciting time for Teen Court and the youth it serves in the Miami Gardens and Opa-locka areas,” MDEAT Executive Director John Dixon said. “The new hearing location will allow for greater access to Teen Court participants in the vicinity in order to support the growing needs of this young population.”

The Teen Court inaugural kickoff event for the new court hearing location will take place at Miami Gardens City Hall, 18605 NW 27 Avenue, Miami Gardens, FL, 33056, on Wednesday, May 31, 2017, from 5:00PM to 7:00PM. City of Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, Esq. will preside over the court hearings for this kickoff event.

As one of 1300 nationwide teen, peer, student and youth court programs, Miami-Dade County Teen Court promotes long-term behavioral changes in overall youth development including leadership, ethical decision-making, critical thinking and problem-solving. Court-ordered sanctions typically include jail tours, boot camp, apology letters to parents and the victim and community service. Successful program completion allows the youth offender to have his/her record not processed as an arrest and removed from public viewing, thus providing the youth offender with a second chance. Teen Court trains youth volunteers to fill the roles of attorneys, bailiffs, jurors and clerks. Youth volunteers also earn community service hours required for high school graduation.

In support of the fourth largest school district in the United States, Miami-Dade County Public Schools partnered with MDEAT to offer a school version of Teen Court as a restorative justice strategy and successfully implemented Student Court in 15 public high schools around the county. Aimed at helping students who violate school rules to learn from their mistakes, Student Court also helps students’ development while allowing them to tell their side of the story.

“Student Court was established several years ago to assist Miami-Dade County high school students in maturity, self-confidence and discipline,” MDEAT Chairperson Cornell Crews explained. “High school years can be some of the most challenging for teens and Student Court is there to help them get back on the right track. By implementing a school-based Student Court, more students are now transitioning into volunteering for Teen Court, thus allowing them to be a part of changing the lives of at-risk youth in the community,” Crews continued. “We are especially pleased to be expanding into Miami Gardens and look forward to the continued growth of Teen Court.”

About MDEAT: Miami-Dade Economic Advocacy Trust (MDEAT) is a Miami-Dade County agency dedicated to increasing awareness regarding socio-economic issues and developing opportunities that help create economic parity between local Black communities and the community-at-large. MDEAT increases community awareness through its socioeconomic programs and initiatives in the areas of economic development, homeownership and youth development. For more information about MDEAT, or the Annual Report and Scorecard, visit www.miamidade.gov/economicadvocacytrust.