February 26, 2013
During the 2001-2002 school year, the Thurston County Youth Court Program was developed in cooperation with the River Ridge High School, North Thurston Public Schools, Thurston County Prosecutor's Office, YMCA, Washington State Bar Association, Community Youth Services, Thurston County Juvenile/Court Probation and the Superior Court Judges and Court Commissioners for Thurston County. In 2004, the program expanded to include truancy violations from schools and juvenile court. For many years, the program was directed by Thurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rick Peters. In 2011, the Youth Court Program did not hold meetings or hearings for the first time since the 2001-2002 school year.
The Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney's Office has been working to revive our Youth Court Program and is actively recruiting students from our local high schools. A training for students is set for Saturday, March 2, 2013, and Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Rick Peters has graciously donated his time and agreed to lead the training and share some of his expertise learned from his many years as program coordinator. Once the students are trained in the Peer Jury Youth Court model, the Court will accept truancy cases from the Thurston County Juvenile Court and hopes to hold hearings over the last few months of the school year.
As the new coordinator of our program, I recognize the long standing tradition and history of the Youth Court Program. It is my hope that we will be able to revitalize the program and teach program participants about the principals of restorative justice and the Washington State legal system. The process of rebuilding the program has been slower than anticipated, but as we start small, we will rebuild the infrastructure and hopefully develop a base of returning students who will keep the program going for many years to come.
Thank you for the opportunity to share a little information about our program.
Joe JacksonThurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney/Youth Court Coordinator