How Does Youth Court Work?

Each Saturday at Youth Court, youth respondents are brought to court and judged by a jury of their peers. Youth jurors question a respondent about what led to their arrest and what activities and situations may have contributed to the problem. Jurors listen intently to both the respondent and family for indications that the young person:

  1. Acknowledges the wrong and the part they played;
  2. Understands the impact their actions may have had on the family, community and victim;
  3. Recognizes the need to change; and
  4. Is ready and willing to work toward improvement.

Since there are no rules of evidence in Youth Court, any question or information that the jury sees as critical to further understand the situation is permissible. The jurors also ask questions of the respondent’s parent or guardian, giving them the opportunity to express their feelings.

At the close of each hearing, the peer jury decides which types of activities the respondent must participate in and complete to satisfy the offense, promoting a sense of responsibility and commitment to a better life for themselves and those around them.

Each Youth Court respondent may be required to:

  • Attend Jury Duty (7 sessions, which includes Jury Training);
  • Attend Youth Court Girls Group Sessions, or Boy’s Focus;
  • Perform Community Service;
  • Pay restitution for damage to property;
  • Write sincere letters of apology to the victim and/or their own family;
  • Write essays on subjects considered important to the offense;
  • Actively participate in outside servives, such as counseling, mentoring, or drug abuse programs; and/or shoplifting education.

Youth are strongly encouraged to participate and complete their sentences. When a respondent refuses to participate or take responsibility for their own personal growth, Youth Court has the authority to refer the case back to the Corporation Counsel and Superior Court where the case will run the full extent of legal proceedings.