LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

Jury of one’s peers: Newark’s youth court lets kids run the courtroom

BY Andrew Schmertz, Correspondent |

In the Newark Municipal Court building, the wheels of justice are being turned by high schoolers. Youth Court is a program that provides alternative justice for teenagers who have landed in hot water.

Youth Court recruits high school students to serve as judges, jurors, and community and youth advocates. The teens get 40 hours of training, and then hand down what’s called restorative justice to their wayward peers, who are able to avoid a criminal record.

The court sees real cases with real sentences. Teens say it gives them a chance to help their peers stay out of trouble in the future. The program managers say youth court reduces the amount of repeat offenders and some of those offenders actually go on to join the program.