To celebrate Law Day — an annual event, celebrated May 1, that is sponsored by the American Bar Association (ABA) — the ABA teamed up with Global Youth Justice (GYJ) in an effort to help youth courts across more than 40 states launch 250 websites.
According to the Global Youth Justice website, more than 1,400 juvenile justice programs utilizing youth or student courts have been set up worldwide. By 2020, GYJ aspires to have more than 1,800 youth and student courts established in all 50 states, with more than 200,000 young offenders annually referred to such juvenile diversion programs.
In seven years time, the GYJ wants almost 200,000 young people volunteering for local youth courts, with assistance from 27,000 adult volunteers and 4,5000 full-and-part-time professional staffers.
Youth courts entail the training of young people to be judges, attorneys and jurors in low-level juvenile offender cases. According to an Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) JuvJust release, such programs “promote accountability, provide access to youth resources and model peer leadership” for young people.
“These programs offer communities an opportunity to provide immediate consequences for primarily first-time youthful offenders,” the GYJ website reads. “What’s more, youth courts provide a peer-operated sentencing mechanism that constructively allows young people to take responsibility, be held accountable, and make restitution for committing a crime, offense, and/or violation.”
A full list of GYJ-endorsed youth and student court programs across the nation can be accessed at the organization’s official website.