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 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.