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Community Youth Courts offers a diversion program (alternative to the traditional juvenile justice system) to middle and high school teens who are first time offenders of misdemeanor or lesser crimes in the Southern Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. We offer the offending youth a second chance via restorative justice, peer interaction and personal growth opportunities.
Youth Courts provide services to hard-to-serve youth who previously would have slipped through the cracks of the juvenile justice system and who would potentially have continued their interaction with the criminal justice system well into adulthood.
Youth Courts are entirely voluntary and address the early stages of juvenile delinquency by bringing teenage offenders before a jury of their peers. Sentencing includes constructive sanctions such as community service, jury duty, Life Choices class, apologies and/or restitution using restorative justice principles. Emphasis is placed on maintaining respectful treatment of offenders and victims. Participating youth learn about making responsible choices and accepting the consequences for their actions.
Communities benefit financially from not having to try these cases in juvenile courts and from having a steady supply of community service volunteers.
Recidivism rates are very low, so there is less crime and less money lost in having to process the youth offenders through the juvenile court system.
- Karen Halfon
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