Youth Courts: A National Movement May 1998

Broadcast Overview 
While youth court programs have existed in the United States for over half a century, their number has grown strikingly in the past few years, in part as a result of increased support at the Federal level. Currently, more than 450 youth court programs are operating with some 100 additional programs in development. The majority are grassroots efforts, reflecting the fact that communities see youth court as an effective means for holding youth accountable for delinquent and criminal behavior. 

Youth courts give communities an opportunity to impose immediate consequences on first-time youthful offenders and allow young people to accept responsibility for their actions, build competencies in youth, and protect the community as part of a graduated sanctions system. Youth courts also present communities with opportunities to teach young people valuable life and coping skills. They also promote positive peer influence for youth who are defendants, as they are being tried by their peers who are trained to serve on the youth court as volunteers. These volunteers serve in a variety of roles that include defense and prosecuting attorneys, court clerks, bailiffs, jurors, and, in some courts, even as judges. In participating in these roles, the students have a learning experience at the same time that they are helping fellow students. Also, the youth court has an important rehabilitative component that helps to raise the self-esteem of youth who have completed their sentences by asking them to serve on the court. A training program is provided to every youth prior to their service on the court that takes them through the court process and its functions, e.g, role of volunteers, case preparation, courtroom procedures, purpose of teen court, and the juvenile justice system. 

The May 27 teleconference will examine the rapidly expanding youth court concept as a potentially effective strategy in a graduated sanctions model for juvenile offenders. Effective practices in youth court programs will be highlighted including examples of several different youth court models from San Francisco, California; Odessa, Texas; and Colonie, New York. Youth court directors and national leaders will interact by telephone with the viewing audience during the live telecast. 

The Youth Courts: A National Movement satellite teleconference was designed to: 

The Juvenile Justice Teleconference Website
For More information, please contact:
Jenny McWilliams at 859-622-6671

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