What is Maine Youth Court?
The Maine Youth Court is a program that allows young people who have violated the law or school rules to be held accountable by their peers. In Youth Court, student volunteers are highly trained and supported to act as advocates and judges.
Youth Court may be available to any youth from Portland to Bath who has committed a crime or broken a school rule. Three youth advocates and three peer judges are assigned. One youth advocate represents and supports the youth in trouble (respondent), one youth advocate represents and supports the victim, and one youth advocate represents the community.
Using a Restorative Justice framework, each hearing is designed to create an agreement which will:
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. Peer Support is available throughout the process, and partnerships in the community allow for tailored agreements which may include substance abuse education, treatment, mentor-ship, 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.