Youth Court

Youth courts train teenagers to serve as jurors, judges and advocates, handling real-life cases involving their peers. The goal of youth court is to use positive peer pressure to ensure that young people who have committed minor offenses learn accountability and repair the harm caused by their actions.  Youth courts direct lower level cases from the formal justice system. A variety of justice agencies refer cases to youth courts with the goal of preventing further involvement in the juvenile or criminal justice systems.  Youth courts can also be an integral part of a school’s disciplinary process, serving as an alternative to traditional disciplinary measures such as suspension and detention.  The Center launched its first youth court in 1998 as part of the Red Hook Community Justice Center.

In addition to operating several youth courts, the Center provides technical assistance to communities and schools that are interested in launching a new or improving an existing youth court program. 

To get help planning, implementing, or evaluating a youth court, click here.

Youth Courts

The Center for Court Innovation operates the following youth courts:

Youth Courts in Schools: A Peer-Based Approach to Discipline

In 2012, the Center for Court Innovation held a two-session symposium for school administrators and staff on starting school-based youth courts as an alternative disciplinary response. Participants discussed the nuts and bolts of starting and operating a youth court.
The PowerPoint presentations delivered at both trainings are available for download: (Session 1) (Session 2)
Click here to listen to school administrators and educators discuss school-based youth courts.

Webinars for Youth Court Practitioners

Measuring Success: Youth Court Program Evaluation and Data Management: How youth courts can use data to measure, evaluate and document the effectiveness of their programs.

Funding and Sustainability: Private and public funders help youth courts think about their funding strategies.

Strategic Communications and Social Media: Developing an effective communication strategy and a case study demonstrating how a youth court can use Facebook to expand its outreach efforts.

Publications

Youth Court Planning Guide

Youth Court Planning Guide

A comprehensive framework for starting a school- or community-based youth court from scratch. The guide provides an overview of the youth court model and prompts planners to consider, examine, and decide on all elements of a youth court’s operation, from staffing to referrals to sanctions.

Publications

Creating a Youth Court Operations Manual

Creating a Youth Court Operations Manual

A guide for practitioners, this resource is intended to help existing youth courts document, standardize, and maintain the high quality of their programs and help planners of new youth courts develop all of the policies and procedures necessary for a successful program.

Demonstration Projects
Most Popular Research

Video

Talking It Through: A Teen-Police Dialogue

Talking It Through: A Teen-Police Dialogue

Relationships between police officers and young people are often challenging and unfriendly. One way to reduce tension and increase respect is to bring these two groups together in conversation to speak honestly and learn more about their different perspectives.

The Youth Justice Board, an after school program operated by the Center for Court Innovation that gives young people the opportunity to be advocates for their peers, created this video Talking It Through: A Teen-Police Dialogue, which shows how positive communication can build stronger, friendlier relationships between police officers and young people.  

After watching, please let us know what you think by completing a short survey here.

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Publications

Kids, Courts and Communities: Lessons from the Red Hook Youth Court

Kids, Courts and Communities: Lessons from the Red Hook Youth Court

By David C. Anderson

A comprehensive look at a youth court in Brooklyn, including program structure, lessons learned, challenges and snapshots of real court cases.

Publications

The Adolescent Diversion Program in New York: A Reform in Progress

The Adolescent Diversion Program in New York: A Reform in Progress

By Richard Ross and Alfred Siegel

This paper reviews the lessons learned from nine pilot court sites testing the Adolescent Diversion Program, which brings cases of 16- and 17-year-olds before specially trained judges, who have access to an expanded array of dispositions, including age-appropriate services. The Adolescent Diversion Program was created as a forerunner to proposed legislation that would allow courts to divert cases pre-trial and focus more effectively on the special needs of adolescent defendants.

Contact
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  • New York, NY 10018
  • phone: 646.386.3100
  • Syracuse
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  • 300 South State Street
  • Syracuse, NY 13202
  • phone: 315.266.4330
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  • London, WC2B 4AS
  • phone: +44 2076.329.060