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Recommended Practices for Youth Courts: A Manual for New York Youth Court Coordinators and Practitioners

NCJ Number
Dory Hack; Jacqueline Sherman
Date Published
March 2010
121 pages
This manual provides resources, tools, and guidance for the implementation of best practices in New York State youth courts, based on lessons learned from successful youth courts in the State.
Youth courts train local teens to serve as jurors, judges, and attorneys in the processing of actual cases that involve their peers. The distinctive objectives of youth courts are to use positive peer pressure to ensure that youth who have committed minor offenses are held accountable for the harms they have done and receive the help they need to cease their delinquent behavior and develop positive behaviors. A few core principles for the practices of New York State youth courts are supported by the national body of literature on youth courts. One principle is the application of "restorative justice," which encourages delinquent youth to take responsibility for and do what they can to repair the harm they have caused. A second principle is the development of leadership among youth who participate as court personnel, as they develop skills that can be implemented in their schools and communities. A third principle emphasizes civic education, whereby youth-court volunteers and respondents can develop and use what they have gained in knowledge, experience, and perceptions regarding how society manages harmful and unlawful behaviors. Recommended practices are outlined for various areas of the youth court's operation including management and staffing, funding, youth volunteers, training, referrals and intake, hearings, post-hearing process, and program evaluation and data management. Other sections of the manual pertain to an overview of relevant research and resources, results from the New York State Youth Court Survey and an index of resources for youth court practitioners. Profiles are provided for select youth courts, along with tools for program evaluation. A 29-item bibliography and appended New York State Youth Court Survey questionnaire and the protocol used for site visits