Understanding Bias, Privilege in Teen Court

Buffalo/Pepin County Teen Court current panel members discuss sanctions for a mock offender.                               

At their recent mini-training, Buffalo / Pepin County teen court panelists watch videos about grit, bias and privilege.


Buffalo/Pepin County Teen Court offers eligible youth an alternative to appearing in Juvenile Court. Youth offenders have an opportunity to receive a meaningful consequence from a jury of their peers while gaining an opportunity to take responsibility for their actions. Buffalo/Pepin County Teen Court serves to modify behavior of first-time offenders by combining positive peer pressure to promote youth development and restorative justice.

In order to stay up to date as teen panelists who serve as peer judges, Buffalo/Pepin County Teen Court offers regular opportunities for panelists to re-learn about restorative justice approaches and develop a deeper understanding of working with teen offenders. A recent mini-training for current panelists engaged youth in considering creative sanctions for their peers. Trista Lay, a panelists from Gilmanton, co-taught the session with the teen court coordinator, after participating in a similar session at the Wisconsin Teen Court State Conference last fall.

Another core piece of the mini-training was on better understanding implicit bias and privilege in Teen Court. Panelists explored privileges they have in their lives and also the power they have in assigning consequences to peer offenders. Youth panelists also discussed the biases and assumptions that are sometimes made when a teen makes a mistake and enters the juvenile justice system. The panelists hope to apply their learning to future cases.

Teen Court panelists and guests that participated in the mini-training at Pepin County Government Center in Durand on January 31, 2018 include: Wyatt Johnson (Alma), Lacie Johnson (Alma), Alyssa Kosidowski (Alma), Samantha Benish (Alma), Laney Ruehman (C-FC) Maya Jungwirth (Durand), Alexandra McMahon (Durand), Abby Glover (Durand) Makayla Saul (Gilmanton), Trista Lay (Gilmanton) and Abigail Gaulke (Mondovi).

Buffalo/Pepin County Teen Court is led by co-coordinators Annie Lisowski, Buffalo County 4-H Youth Development Educator, and Marie Ritscher, Pepin County 4-H Youth Development Agent, both who work for the University of Wisconsin-Extension.