Sunday, December 5, 2010

Youth Court: Part 2

Christina Delva, Youth Court Advisor attending Widener University
Ray Thompson and Youth Court Students
The Youth Court’s philosophy is teens who are fairly judged and sentenced by their peers and who actively take responsibility for their actions by completing a constructive sentence is significantly less likely to re-offend.

The Youth Court has three missions (1.) To promote an understanding of students’ rights and responsibilities (2.) To provide a forum for student voice in the development and application of restorative justice, and (3.) To create a more positive school environment through student self-discipline.  

Youth Court is an old concept from the seventies and has 1500 programs nationwide. In the 4 years of existence, Youth Court has heard over 100 cases. It has a current backlog of 265 cases. It operates out of Chester High School Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.

When I visited I got a chance to observe a court session. An oath was administered before the students got started with the hearing. The student Judge was seated. The Jury was sworn in. The youth offender was present for a hearing on class cutting and hall walking. The Youth Advocate (lawyer) gave the opening remarks. The jury questioned the Respondent about the offense. The Youth Advocate gave a closing remark. Then the Jury deliberated. The Jury Forman delivered the verdict to the Judge and the Respondent. The Respondent was asked if the verdict was understood and if they would complete it. In this case, the Respondent had to apologize to the teacher for cutting class and perform 12 hours of jury duty.

In addition to the volunteer opportunities in Youth Court, students get an opportunity to clerk for 6 weeks at the Media Courthouse. Each student is assigned to a Judge. Students get to learn the real legal system, I am told, instead of just watching it on Law and Order. Students have also gotten an opportunity to attend Mock Trials in Philadelphia to experience the court system.  Ray Thompson, Faculty Advisor, said Youth Court provides a “fabulous education opportunity for students.” 

To see article go to this link:

1 comment:

  1. i beleave that the youth curt can be a great think for teens that love to do things for the school. Where they would help our teens in school work and hurted time in thier lifes. They can show other teens that want to be in youth curt but to scared to do it. That they would love to have you on the team and with help you get over those fears. Then you can do the same for other just by being a helper, respectful, and a very good friend and are the right kind of teenager to fallow