The Community Court Program has been in operation since April 1999 and is authorized by the Mercer County Court of Common Pleas to serve as a diversionary program for first-time offenders. The program consists of a cross-section of trained volunteers who serve on committees within their community. The committees review cases that are referred from either the Mercer County Juvenile Probation Department or five Magisterial District Judges. Currently, there are five Community Courts in Mercer County serving Greenville, Grove City, Hermitage, Mercer and the combined Sharon / Farrell area.
In order for a case, or referral, to be eligible for the Community Court Program, the juvenile must admit guilt and have no prior history with the Mercer County Juvenile Probation Department. The juvenile also must be between the age of 10 and 17 at the time of the offense and is alleged to have committed either a summary or low-grade misdemeanor crime. The committees determine the appropriate consequences for each case and hold the juvenile accountable to his/her community by requiring the juvenile and his/her parent/guardian to meet regularly with the committee. Generally, the juveniles are supervised in the program for six months during which time they meet monthly with the committee to review their progress and compliance with their terms of supervision. Terms of supervision for Community Court cases include, but are not limited to: community service, victim restoration via restitution, apology letters and/or mediation, jail tours, random drug testing, academic monitoring and counseling. If at the end of this six month time period, the juvenile has successfully completed the program, their charge(s) are withdrawn and they do not incur a record. However, if the juvenile does not comply and is unsuccessfully discharged, his/her case is returned to the Magisterial District Judge or Mercer County Juvenile Probation Department for further action.
The Community Court Program is supported by PCCD Subgrant #2004-JB-03-15792 awarded by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and matching funds approved by the Mercer County Board of Commissioners. The awarded PCCD funds originate with the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view or opinions contained within this web site are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent any official position, policy or view of the PCCD.