What is Maine Youth Court?
The Maine Youth Court is a youth-led restorative justice program that allows young people who have violated the law, a school rule, or a community expectation to be held accountable by those they have affected. In this restorative and youth-led process we work to provide opportunities for the youth in trouble to take responsibility for their actions and strengthen their community connections.
The purpose of the Maine Youth Court is to divert youth away from more punitive discipline systems and offer a holistic path towards repair and reconnect. We serve youth between the ages of 11-18 within the Midcoast, Greater Portland, and Lewiston/Auburn areas.
The Maine Youth Court is unique in its restorative approach and is run by youth, for youth. Youth volunteers are trained and supported by staff to facilitate restorative justice processes while considering the specific needs of the youth respondent, the people impacted by their behavior, and the surrounding community in each case.
Using a Restorative Justice framework, each process is designed to create a repair agreement which aims to:
1) Repair the harm done
2) Increase the respondent’s skills, knowledge, and resources
3) Increase the respondent’s connection in the community
4) Build on and build up the strengths of the respondent
Usually the process takes about three months. We partner with services and supports in the community to allow for tailored agreements which may include substance use education, treatment, mentor-ship, counseling, community service, and more.
The successful completion of Youth Court begins to repair the harm with those affected,
keeps youth in trouble (respondent) out of court, out of the Juvenile Justice System, and increases their positive contribution to the community.
The Restorative Justice Project (RJP) is the fiscal sponsor of the Maine Youth Court. The Restorative Justice Project promotes fundamental change in the justice system and schools. There responses to crime and wrongdoing seek renewal and safety for the community, support and healing for victims and accountability and reintegration of the offender.