Youth Courts, also called teen courts, peer courts or student courts, provide an alternative to traditional juvenile court for young people who made mistakes that take them into the Juvenile Justice System for the first time on minor offenses.
In Youth Courts, young people decide cases with three things in mind: accountability - increasing the youthful offender's awareness of the harmful effects of the behavior that resulted in the offense; competency development - providing the offender with skills that will enable the young person to make better choices in the future; and community safety - strengthening the connections between the youthful offender and the community at large which reduces factors that contribute to any future wrongdoing.
Teenaged court members learn about the role of law in our democracy and about their role as active citizens. They learn about court procedures, sentencing options, trial techniques, structure of the justice system, the meaning of justice and relationships between rights and responsibilities.
Young people who are equipped with knowledge of the law and how it works within the judicial system are inclined to have a better understanding of their connection to the American system of justice. The youth feel that they are participants, not potential victims.