Buffalo / Pepin County Teen Court welcomed nine new panel members at their training on June 9 at the Marten Center in Mondovi. These new panelists join about twenty-five other high school students already serving as peer judges. Teen Court hears about 25 cases a year across the two counties with referrals from the juvenile court, law enforcement, human services, and local schools.
Integral parts of the training included developing an understanding of the pillars of restorative justice, practicing effective and equitable questioning strategies, reviewing the hearing process and steps in deliberation, and discussing the research behind criminogenic needs.
Following formal training time, current panelists coached new judges in a mock teen court hearing. They shared their perspectives, challenges and rewards serving Buffalo / Pepin County Teen Court. Panel members who assisted in facilitating the training were John Schmidtknecht, Zach Kauten, Emily Walker and Morgan Guenther.
The new teen court panelists that participated in training include: Kailey Herbenson (Gilmanton), Jaycee Lisowski (C-FC), Julia Moats (Mondovi), Sofia Sandberg (Mondovi), A.J. Montreuil (Gilmanton), Evan Olson (Pepin), Isabella Wayne (Durand), Bailey Weisenbeck (Durand), and Kayla Ziegler (Durand).
The training that was coordinated by Annie Lisowski and Marie Ritscher, both University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension Educators and Teen Court Co-Coordinators, is centered on educating high school students on utilizing restorative justice with their peers. Restorative justice is an approach that encourages an offender to change behavior; a method that has illustrated as most effective, especially for young people. Teen Court panelists also help their peer offenders to repair their relationship with the victim, restore their image in the community and build skills that will boast their future chance at success.