U.S. Rep. Ron Barber today announced that Pima Prevention Partnership has received a $200,000 federal grant to be used in an innovative program in which teens accused of some crimes are judged by their peers.

The funding will benefit Pima County Teen Court, which has been in operation since 1995.

“Teen Court has done an excellent job of keeping young offenders out of the juvenile justice system,” Barber said today. “This grant will allow the court to offer even more services to teens who are arrested for minor crimes.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today awarded the $200,000 Mental Health and Substance Abuse Service Grant to Pima Prevention Partnership.

Claire Scheuren, deputy director of the partnership, said the three-year grant will allow Teen Court to implement substance abuse screening and treatment for the estimated 450 teens per year who participate in Teen Court.

Teen Court is a diversion program for minors who have been arrested and have admitted guilt to their crime. These teens who usually are first or second offenders may agree to choose Teen Court where they are sentenced by a jury of their peers instead of going through the Pima County Juvenile Justice Court system.

All participants in the courtroom are teens, except for the judge. Since its inception nearly 18 years ago, Teen Court has conducted more than 5,000 cases. The rate of teens who reoffend is about half that of teens who go through the transitional juvenile court process.

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