ASK Youth Court, founded in 2007, is a program based on a national program developed by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The Youth Court is a voluntary alternative to Family Court and the criminal justice system. It is organized and run by teens, adjudicating misdemeanor cases involving other teens with the goal of reducing juvenile delinquency. Youth Court members serve in the roles of Judge, Prosecutor, Defense Attorney, Jury, Clerk, and Bailiff. The legal and binding procedure determines a fair and restorative sentence in the form of community service hours for the youth offender.
The program offers these teens an opportunity to assume responsibility for their actions; it also promotes a desire for self-improvement, fosters a healthy understanding of and attitude toward rules and authority, and provides a chance to learn about the justice system. Youth Court also offers parents and the community a constructive and positive means to hold youthful offenders accountable for problem behaviors, including behavior that previously may have received little or no attention from the criminal justice system, or when corrective responses by parents, guardians, or the community have had little or no impact.
Youth Court volunteer members range in age from 13 to 19. They complete a comprehensive training program overseen by professionals in the field, including police officers, social workers, members of the District Attorney’s office, and other sectors of the legal community. It concludes with a mock trial and bar exam to ensure that the volunteer members have achieved the necessary knowledge and confidence to fulfill their roles.
APPLICATIONS ARE AVAILABLE to participate in Youth Court for 2015-2016. ASK invites students in grades 8-12 to complete an application and return it to their School Resource Officer (SRO) by Friday, October 23, 2015.