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Humboldt County Teen Court Spring jury training session

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EUREKA - There's another option for teen offenders in Humboldt County, a court of their peers deciding their sentence. Humboldt County's volunteer Teen Court diversion program, held it's Spring jury training session Thursday night at the Boys and Girls Club of the Redwoods.

Teen court is based on youth empowerment, accountability and second chances. It allows first time juvenile offenders to have their case diverted to a jury of their peers.

"It shows them that they can be in front of people and that people aren't going to judge them unfairly as much, which some people kind of get the mind set when they get stuck in the judicial system," said Jenna Osenbaugh, Teen Court Leader and Attorney.

After volunteers serve on a teen court jury, they have opportunity to become a leader; which are ambassadors of the program and lead jury trainings.

"The training focuses on the general logistics and emphasis of teen court," said Sacha Marini, Teen Court Director.

Teen court leaders chose three core values to teach at jury training, restorative justice, anti-oppression and harm reduction.  

Teen Court Leader, Phoebe Ruggles says, "We want the jurors that we train to be empathetic in the jury box and to really try to understand what this person on trial is going through”.

Jury training involves sample case scenarios based on real teen court cases.

"So that they can come up with what they think will be an appropriate sentence and it's an opportunity for them to think through," said Marini.   

Teen court jurors provide a sentence for the offender but have the option for creative sentencing.

"So if they do want to be an NBA star, we can assign them to join rec league basketball," said Ruggles.

After completing two jury trials there's an option to become a teen court attorney, both community and client.

"I've represented a couple of people and I really enjoy that, I think that's it's really cool to show their side of the story, ask them questions that I think are going to help  the jury know who they are as a person and not just the bad stuff that they did," said Osenbaugh. 

If you're interested in teen court volunteer opportunities you can watch an orientation video online at bgcredwoods.org/humboldt-county-teen-court