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A jury of their peers: teen courts help communities get smart about being tough.

Garrett, Ronnie
June 4, 2015

Source: (2009) Law Enforcement Technology. 36(7):44-50.

At its core, youth court has two main goals:

(1) Response to the behavior. That’s its forte, says Jack Levine, president of Tallahassee, Fla.’s 4Generations Institute, a non-profit organization designed to bridge the gap between generations. The community and public policy consultant on juvenile crime for the National Association of Youth Courts says the programs set up a system of contractual relationships. Evidence is brought forth for teen jurors to base their decisions upon. Behavioral consequences might include restitution, community service and personal restrictions. The program also incorporates an implied threat–a youth who fails to follow through faces further refer rals and severe consequences.

(2) Building youth responsibility. The civic aspect, brought about through community service, jury duty and restitution, teaches youth about their responsibilities within the community. “It allows a young person whose behaviors are deemed inappropriate to develop skills and tools that turn into appropriate behavior,” Levine says, pointing out that youth court participation can be a mechanism for this to occur. Some of the best youth court ambassadors, he says, came through the doors with an offense on paper. (excerpt)


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