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Youth Court: The Colonie, New York Experience

NCJ Number
Journal for Juvenile Justice and Detention Services Volume: 11 Issue: 2 Dated: (Fall 1996) Pages: 79-82
P S Lockart; W C Pericak; S B Peterson
Date Published
4 pages
This article describes the rationale and operation of a youth court, in which a youth who has admitted responsibility for an offense appears for a sentencing hearing before a jury of peers, and discusses the successful experience of the Town of Colonie, N.Y., Youth Court.
Youth court is an innovative approach to addressing early antisocial, delinquent, and criminal behavior. The peer jury in a youth court receives evidence relevant to sentencing, including aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Sentences typically include community service and educational components and emphasize rehabilitative goals. A youth court program involves early intervention, peer judgment, positive behavior, and accountability and promotes attachment, commitment, and acceptance of responsibility. Youth court benefits and serves three groups of youth: offenders, volunteer jurors, and members. The coordinator has a crucial role. The coordinator schedules the sentencing hearing and provides background information to youth court members before the hearing. The coordinator also oversees the completion of the sentence and ensures that the offender attends all scheduled community service functions and classes. The Colonie Youth Court is funded mainly through a State grant. The court has adjudicated 152 cases through May 1996. One hundred thirty-four youths have successfully completed community service obligations, one was unsuccessful, and the rest are completing their community service. The court has a full-time director and a board of directors and advisory board representing diverse sectors of the community. 10 references