On April 5, 2017 the Buffalo/Pepin County Teen Court held a panelist training at the Buffalo County Courthouse in Alma. Panelists serve as peer ‘judges’ who hold juvenile first-time offenders accountable for their actions by issuing fair and innovative sanctions. The following individuals attended the training and were welcomed as new panelists: Alex McMahon (Durand), Danielle Klein (Alma), Abby Gaulke (Mondovi), Emma Brecka (Alma), Maya Jungwirth (Durand), Gabby Redfern (Gilmanton), Trista Lay (Gilmanton), Alyssa Kosidowski (Alma), Bella Schmidtknecht (C-FC) and Emily Strom (C-FC). The training focused on focused on a brief overview of Teen Court, restorative justice, and effective questioning. Current panelists Madison Tennant (C-FC), Deanna Wiersgalla (C-FC), Haleigh Klopp (Gilmanton), Kenzie Lieffering (Durand), Bryttany Wener (Pepin), Christopher Bocksell (Pepin) also attended the training to conduct mock trials and coach incoming panelists. The training was coordinated by UW-Extension Youth Development Educators, Annie Lisowski and Marie Ritscher.
Buffalo & Pepin Counties’ Circuit Court Judge Jamie Duvall also spoke with panelists about questioning techniques, why people commit crimes, and factors to consider when deciding meaningful and authentic sanctions for youth offenders. The recently hired Criminal Justice Service Coordinator in Buffalo County, Brenda Berning, also engaged in the training and discussed with panelists restorative justice practices in sentencing from her perspective, experience and from the research.
Throughout the training panelists were able to apply what they learned by working through different scenarios they are likely to face in Teen Court. The youth worked together through a mock trial and practiced determining appropriate sanctions. Evaluation data illustrated the training was very effective and they learned how to help peers change their behavior after they make a mistake as well as effective questing techniques and ways to develop innovative sanctions.
The Buffalo/Pepin Teen Court serves to modify behavior of youthful, first-time offenders by combining positive peer pressure and involvement within our counties, families, schools, and religious organizations to promote youth development and restorative justice.
More photos from the April 5 New Panelist Training