Youth courts train teenagers to handle real-life cases involving their peers, offering a restorative response to misbehavior.
The Center launched one of the first youth courts in New York in Red Hook, Brooklyn in 1998. Today, the Center also operates youth courts in Harlem, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Newark, N.J. Youth courts use positive peer pressure to ensure that young people who have committed minor offenses pay back the community and receive the help they need to avoid further involvement in the justice system. Youth courts hear a range of low-level crimes; many handle cases that would otherwise wind up in Family Court or Criminal Court. The Center also assists local jurisdictions in their efforts to establish youth courts.
Meet the teenagers of the Newark Youth Court. These young people fill the roles of judge, bailiff, advocates, and jurors, hearing low-level cases involving their peers. The sentences are always restorative, meant to provide a positive experience for the respondent and avoid a criminal record.
The Stopping Hate and Delinquency by Empowering Students (SHADES) program is a teen court focusing on bullying and bias incidents. The program is run as a partnership of the Los Angeles Superior Court, Department of Probation, and the Museum of Tolerance. In this episode of New Thinking, David S. Wesley, presiding judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court, and Camilo Cruz, director of community relations for the Los Angeles Superior Court, discuss the unique features of the SHADES program.
This resource helps existing youth courts document, standardize, and maintain the high quality of their programs and helps planners of new youth courts develop all of the policies and procedures necessary for a successful program.