Youth Peer Court Benefits
For the Defendants
- Youth Peer Court offers an alternative to Juvenile Court (and a possible criminal record) for youths who have committed first-time misdemeanors or violations.
- The jury duty requirement allows the defendant to switch to the other side of the legal process which restores self-esteem and promotes accountability for their actions.
- Attending a self-esteem workshop provides useful skills for the defendant to make responsible decisions in the future.
- The Youth Peer Court experience generates a respect for the legal system and the consequences of one's actions.
For the Volunteers
- Volunteers become closely familiar with important legal statutes, issues, and concepts through hands-on experience. They begin to understand the reasoning behind certain provisions of the law and how to interpret legal writing.
- The constant interaction between volunteers and police officers fosters mutual cooperation and respect.
- Voluntary work is looked upon favorably by scholarship committees, universities, and the community.
- Volunteers may develop common understandings or friendships from working together.
- Volunteers may develop empathy as they become more aware of the problems facing their peers and, perhaps, themselves.
For the Community
- The goal of Youth Peer Court is to educate the community's youths. Defendants gain respect for the law when held accountable for their actions by their peers. In most cases, defendants will use better discretion when making future choices, thereby, lowering the community's crime rate. Youths who are active community members, grow up to be adults who are active in the community.
- Youth Peer Court helps to lower the number of cases tried in Juvenile Court, which saves money and allows more efficient prosecution of more serious crimes. Other communities report that similar programs have been significant in reducing second-time offenses.