"How did you feel when you were at the precinct?" one teen asked.
"Scared and mad," the youngster replied, as he stared down at the table.
That was the scene last week at Far Rockaway Youth Court, which allows a group of trained teens to hear cases and mete out punishment for low-level offenses ranging from vandalism and truancy to fare evasion and assault.
But the popular program has become the latest casualty of city and federal budget cuts. If no new funding is found, the Far Rockaway Youth Court will shut its doors at the end of September.
Far Rockaway's Youth Court sentenced to close after September
The group has been unable to secure the $150,000 a year it costs to run the youth court.
The news is heartbreaking to the people who run the program and the kids who hear cases every Tuesday.
The teens receive eight weeks of extensive training and participate in workshops and community events. Instead of handing out "sentences," they decide on "sanctions" for the young offenders. Sanctions can include community service at a library or removing graffiti along with a letter of apology to someone hurt by their actions.
Sounds like a job for some of that borough president "discretionary" money, eh Helen?