LENOX, Mass. (AP) — A Shakespeare theater group has received a $15,000 grant from a United Way chapter in the Berkshires to help it continue a unique program in which juvenile offenders perform plays by the bard.

It's called Shakespeare in the Courts and is billed as an alternative to more traditional forms of punishment for adolescents in Pittsfield who get in trouble with the law. In conjunction with Berkshire Juvenile Court, the youths spend six weeks rehearsing and performing a Shakespeare production.

Lenox-based Shakespeare & Company says the $15,000 grant from Berkshire United Way will help the 17-year-old, nationally-recognized program continue operating.

Similar programs are offered to inmates in prisons around the country as a way of boosting self-confidence and literacy.