Thursday, May 7, 2015


According to the National Youth Court Database, in 1994 there were only 78 youth court programs in operation; as of March, 2010, there were over 1,050 youth court programs in operation in 49 states and the District of Columbia.
Conflicting accounts in the literature create challenges to tracing the exact beginnings of youth court programs. One of the earliest known programs still in operation is the Naperville Youth  Jury in Naperville, Illinois. Naperville’s program started in June of 1972. There are also anecdotal reports of a youth court that began operating in Horseheads, NY in 1968.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Washington State Youth Court Association’s Board of Directors member (Secretary/Treasurer) Susan Gregory (Goettsch) has recently been asked to be part of a 14 person committee providing review and input regarding the findings of a study on Youth Courts. 
Global Youth Justice was awarded a new U.S. Department of Justice School Safety 4-year $1.83 million Research Grant with two partners - WestEd and Analytica.  In response to continued School Violence, Congress and the President approved $75 Million for School Safety Research for the first time in 2014, and these funds were competitively awarded by USDOJ's National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to Global Youth Justice.   Susan’s work with the committee will start sometime in the spring of 2015.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


Kaylee Ditlefsen joined teen court this year and has started out strong.  She has engaged in all training opportunities afforded and has volunteered to be prosecutor, defense and judge for the court.  Clallam County Teen Court is very excited to see that Kaylee was selected as Soroptimist’s Girl of the Month of November, 2014.  We know that she will make her dream come true of heading to law school and becoming a prosecutor.  We are truly excited to see what the future holds for Kaylee.
-Submitted by Tracey Lassus - Deputy Prosecutor

Monday, December 22, 2014

National Association of Youth Courts

The National Association of Youth Courts, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) membership organization, serves as a central point of contact for youth court programs across the nation, providing informational services, delivering training and
technical assistance, and developing resource materials on how to develop and enhance youth court programs in the United States.
We are dedicated to providing leadership for a restorative justice model of early intervention so that young people have access to services without formal processing in traditional juvenile justice systems.
Planning for the creation of NAYC began in 2005 with the specific purpose of establishing a private not-for-profit organization to represent and serve local, state and national youth court, teen court, peer court and student court efforts since this local grass-roots movement began a quarter of a century ago.
The official founding of the National Association of Youth Courts, Inc., in 2007, was supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools and Administration for Children, Youth and Families and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Global Youth Justice

New -- Juvenile Justice Journal Article titled "Global Youth Justice: Made in America" in Reclaiming Youth International Journal. Written by Scott Bernard Peterson. Download Free on at

Friday, October 17, 2014


The Washington State Association of Youth Courts is hosting its annual Youth Court Conference at University of Washington - Bothell Campus in Building UW2 (Commons Hall) on October 18, 2014 with registration starting at 9:30, and running from 10 to 4 p.m.

The focus is on restorative justice with a special emphasis on  youth courts as an alternative to suspensions from school. Experts will present on the school to prison pipeline, restorative justice circles, and the youth representing several different youth courts in WA will present restorative justice in their courts, and conduct a mock school hearing. In addition, a detective from Bothell Police Department will demonstrate police technology.

The event is open to youth courts and to communities interested in learning more about how youth courts can serve their local community. A session will focus on issues for existing coordinators and for new communities.

The event is free, and offers clock hours, CLEs and MCJEs. Contact Margaret Fisher, 206-501-7963, for last minute information.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


By Diana Hefley, Herald Writer The boy was stressed out and distracted, the jury agreed. He also already works 22 hours a week outside of school. How much community service would be sufficient to send a message and hold him accountable for his actions? The prosecutors asked for 20 hours. The defense suggested eight hours. Jurors settled on the boy's punishment: 12 hours of community service, a one-page letter about the dangers of inattentive driving, and two sessions volunteering with the court. They filed out into the packed courtroom, ready to give their verdict. The boy's case was one of three heard earlier this month in the Bothell Youth Court, a blossoming program geared at raising awareness among young drivers and holding them accountable for their mistakes. The court also provides about two dozen high school kids the opportunity to interact with college students and local lawyers. "We're not only potentially saving lives but we're also training our future leaders," Bothell Municipal Court Judge Michelle Gehlsen said. The youth court began last year out of a partnership between the city, University of Washington Bothell and local high schools. Young drivers facing their first traffic offenses are offered the option of having their cases heard in the youth court. They must admit they've committed the infractions and agree to the alternative sentences offered by the court, which focuses on restorative justice. Once they complete the requirements, the citation can be dropped off their driving records. "I think young drivers are going to learn more from their mistakes this way then just paying the ticket," Bothell High School junior Emma Yamamoto said. All the court's participants are high school students. They act as the lawyers, judges, jurors, clerk and bailiff. They attend training sessions with UW Bothell college students and receive advice from local attorneys. They volunteer about 20 hours a month to research the cases, meet with the teen drivers and attend the night court hearings. Yamamoto, who has a relative in law enforcement, began volunteering to "get experience with the court system." "I wanted to learn how people my age are affected by the law," she said. So far, she sees that it's not just the ticketed drivers who are taking away some important lessons. "I think everyone can learn from them," she said. In some cases, firefighters have testified about what they see when they respond to crashes. That testimony hits home for some of the teens, Gehlsen said. Sydney Kramer, a Bothell High School junior, was both a prosecutor and defense attorney at the court's most recent session. In the first case, she questioned Bothell Fire Marshal Frank Shasky about the dangers of distracted driving. "The first thing to remember is if you're distracted, it's an impairment," Shasky said. Kramer is interested in going to law school. That's why she joined the court. She serves as the youth president for the court's community advisory board. She likes working with the attorneys, who coach her how to ask better questions of witnesses. The 16-year-old said she also enjoys meeting with the respondents and talking to them before the court hearings. She asks about their grades and activities outside of school. She questions them about their driving and the circumstances that led to their tickets. "As the respondent's advocate we want them to be seen as people, and that they are truly sorry," she said. Kramer, who doesn't have her driver's license yet, thinks some respondents understand the value of being able to make up for their mistakes. Others, she said, are just relieved they don't have to pay the ticket. "If we can change a least one person's behavior, whether it's speeding or texting, that's what counts," she said.