Lufkin offers 1st year of Teen Court using DETCOG grant

The City of Lufkin will be offering their first Teen Court program this fall.
Published: Aug. 1, 2023 at 2:07 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 1, 2023 at 6:17 PM CDT
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ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - High school students in Angelina County will have the chance to serve as court personnel for peers going through the criminal justice system.

Low-level underage offenders will have the option to have their cases heard by a jury of their peers.

“If they’re a first-time offender, they get a ticket. They can ask the judge at their pre-trial hearing to be referred to teen court,” said Lufkin city attorney Kristi Skillern.

The city was awarded a $46,000 grant from DETCOG to start up the city’s first teen court program.

High school teens can volunteer and train to serve as prosecutors, defense attorneys, and juries, which helps provide other opportunities as they learn about the law, said Skillern.

“They get experience, community service hours; they get a letter of recommendation for college or their job.”

Skillern said teen offenders will pay a $20 fee. Traffic tickets and class C misdemeanors, excluding drug, tobacco, and alcohol-related items, can be dismissed. The offender must serve sentences that include community and teen jury services.

“It provides them another option rather than going to court and having their parents pay a huge fine to not have it on their record.”

Skillern also said the city hopes to see court backlogs decrease. “These teens that go through this program tend not to re-offend. And so that saves time and money for the city.”

The first training session for teen volunteers will be September 22nd.