Peer pressure: Madison La Follette High School youth court program shows potential

Matthew DeFour:

When Madison La Follette High School senior Burnett Reed got into a heated argument with another student during his sophomore year in 2008, he faced a choice.
He could take a disorderly conduct ticket that would stay on his court record. Or he could participate in the school’s new youth court program in which a jury of fellow students would assess the case. He chose youth court and was sentenced to writing an apology letter, tutoring and four hours with a life coach.
He so liked the option he soon became a juror, and now is helping Madison West High School start its own program next year.
“It’s a better way to keep youth out of the system,” Reed said.
The approach has so much potential Madison Municipal Judge Dan Koval wants to start a similar program later this year for adult offenders, particularly those with chronic municipal violations such as retail theft, disorderly conduct, trespassing and other non-criminal offenses.