It is my distinct pleasure to introduce to you and the community the California Association of Youth Courts (CAYC) and inform you that we are in the process of working with Loyalton High School, in bringing a Youth Court to Sierra County.
For those who are not familiar with Youth Courts, also known as Teen or Peer Courts, I have taken the liberty to provide you with the following information:
What is Youth Court?
Youth Court is a cost-effective community investment to reduce crime and build assets in our youth. It does so by diverting young offenders – referred by probation, law enforcement and schools – away from the formal juvenile justice system to a community-based system.
Student volunteers, aged 12 – 18, are trained as advocates, bailiffs, jurors, jury forepersons, court clerks, attorneys and judges, to lead all aspects of the Youth Court program. A youth charged with an offense, such as vandalism or possession of drugs, may avoid traditional pitfalls of juvenile court by opting to accept a trial before a jury of teen peers.
With a restorative justice and trauma-informed focus, Youth Court volunteers help teen offenders to be accountable for their actions, reflect on their poor choices, identify their personal strengths and commit to repairing damage done, while restoring relations with families, schools and communities.
An offender in the program must participate on a future jury, perform community service and may attend counseling as a condition of the Restorative Plan. There is no criminal record upon successful completion of the program.
California Association of Youth Courts
The primary objective of the California Association of Youth Court is to support the formation and continuity of Youth Courts. Youth Courts have different styles of operation depending on the legal culture of a community.
Universal training is accomplished via an annual Summit and roundtable events held throughout the state. Adults and students collaborate with persons interested in forming a Youth Court or who wish to expand or improve an existing program.
Ø Constrain the school-to-prison pipelines by providing unique, peer-driven restorative justice models as alternatives to the traditional juvenile justice system.
Ø Provide opportunities for youth to feel connected to and supported by their community.
Ø Empower young people to take an active role in addressing criminal offenses of their peers and expand access to justice.
Additional detailed information may be found on our website WWW.CALYOUTHCOURTS.COM in addition to other social media sites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube).
As you are aware and with the assistance of Principal Megan Meschery, we made our first introductory presentation to the Loyalton High School assembly on Wednesday, October 26, 2022, introducing them to the concept of Youth Courts. We were well received and are looking forward to establishing a local community Youth Court.
First on our agenda is to select and establish a Teen Court Coordinator position followed by developing a team of motivational youth to participate in a Teen Court, who will be trained and educated in Teen Court development at our 2023 Summit scheduled for early June 2023. There is no cost to this training which will be held at the University of Redlands in Redlands, CA. This Summit is followed up by ‘Quarterly Roundtables’ that continue the educational process with presentations by professionals in the juvenile justice reform arena.
Next on our agenda is to introduce to local schools and community, key speakers and presenters such as Dr. Michael Pritchard (Michael Pritchard (comedian) - Wikipedia), who is a nationally acclaimed keynote speaker and youth motivator.
On behalf of the CAYC, I am excited and energized by the possibilities of creating a joint community Plumas/Sierra Youth Court to augment the local juvenile justice community system. I would like to thank the community for their consideration and support in this endeavor and look forward to your participation.
DEREK T. BEVERLY, Interim President
California Association of Youth Courts