Santa Clara County Youth Court

On November 1st, the Santa Clara County Youth Court held its first session, aided by judges and lawyers from the Lincoln Law School of San Jose faculty to train and supervise the youth. Lincoln Law School is proud to play a role in this new program designed to be a restorative alternative to the harsh juvenile justice system currently in play.

The Youth Court has been a high priority project by Lincoln Law School Alumnus and current president of the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, Dave Cortese, who named 2011 as The Year of the Child in his Annual State of the County Address. Dave represents Milpitas, Berryessa and North San Jose.

According to a statement released by Dave Cortese, the Youth Court:

offers youth offenders a second chance through restorative justice and peer accountability. The roles of a typical court, such as the prosecutor, defending attorney and jury, are filled with youth volunteers. The only adults involved will be the judge and bailiff. The benefits are two fold youth offenders assume responsibility for their behavior and the volunteers receive insight into the legal system and possible career opportunities.

The program aims to show the youth how their actions affect the community and the victim of the crime. The sentences prescribed to the offender by a peer jury will hold the offender accountable for their actions while still providing a meaningful experience in the system. Sentences dealt by the peer jury will include the following forms, “restitution for the victim, community service, attendance at workshops, and participation in future juries.” (http://www.mercurynews.com/milpitas/ci_19300232)

The program has been put together by the following organizations:

  • Lincoln Law School
  • The Santa Clara County Probation Department
  • The Santa Clara County Social Services Agency
  • East Side Union High School District
  • The Central County Occupational Center and Andrew Hill High School for providing the student volunteers
  • The Santa Cruz County Office of Education for providing information on its Teen Peer Court

The Youth Court has been a high priority project by council member Dave Cortese of San Jose. If you would like more information on this youth court or know someone who would be interested in volunteering for a role in the court, please contact Dave Cortese at dave.cortese@bos.sccgov.org or (408) 299-5030, website.

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