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The decision on cases handled

Global Youth JusticeWww.GlobalYouthJustice.orgThe Most CommonCrimes, Offenses and/or ViolationsReferred to Local Youth Justice ProgramsWhich types of juvenile and other referrals will be accepted in your local Youth Court, Teen Court, Student Court, Peer Court or Youth Peer Panel?A Critical Decision Your Community Faces

The decision on cases handled
The Decision on Cases Handled

  • There are more than 1,155 local youth courts, teen courts, peer courts, student courts and youth peer panels in America.

  • More than a record 110,000 referrals of youth are now made to these programs each and every year for a wide range of crimes, offenses and/violations to include formal and informal arrests.

  • Only a few states have limits on the type of crimes, offenses and/or violations which may be referred to these Youth Justice programs. Most decision are local and up to adult organizers.

The decision on cases handled1
The Decision on Cases Handled

  • Most communities struggle with having few to no programs within a system of graduated sanctions for first and second time low and mid-level juvenile offenders.

  • Adult community leaders organizing and supporting these programs need to strive to avoid the program to become a dumping ground for all types of crimes, offenses and/or violations. Adopting clear policies on referrals types will help reduce this. Referral Sources can dry up quickly if too many cases referred to a Youth Justice program are referred back based on the case not being accepted.

  • Program organizers should strive to shorten the time from a juvenile arrest or apprehension to their appearance in a Youth or Teen Court program. If this time period is two (2) months or longer – it is not in the best interests of the youth. Ideally, the time from arrest to appearing in Youth Justice program should be less than one month.

The decision on cases handled2
The Decision on Cases Handled

  • The more effective programs, are those which improve upon existing time frames between arrest and appearing in probation or before a juvenile judge for disposition. This is often one of the main reasons for establishing a local Youth Justice program – swifter and more meaningful consequences.

  • These programs need “backbone”. If youth referred learn nothing will happens if they do not complete the program – the program can easily becomes a joke. Police, Probation, School Officials and judges need to provide severe consequences to youth who do not complete their peer imposes sentence – and youth should be made aware upfront, if they appear in youth court – they will be dealt with harshly if they do not complete. Adult organizers need to come up with a policy to address non-completers.

  • If a referral source can not provide any consequence to the youth for not completing the program – the program should consider not taking the referrals from that source, as it could damage the program and adversely effect referrals of other cases from other sources.

The decision on cases handled3
The Decision on Cases Handled

  • A local community with an existing program, or in the process of establishing a program, should have a committee comprised of a wide range of disciplines – who will determine what type of crimes, offenses and/or violations a local Youth Justice program will accept.

  • A formal policy should be written and available to the public. This policy should be included with local MOU’s with partner organizations and referral sources.

  • The policy should include type of cases, referral sources, age of acceptable referrals, geographic area, criteria such as required transportation, referral process, forms and confidentiality, recourse for non-completers and more.

The decision on cases handled4
The Decision on Cases Handled

  • A referral committee to Establish or Enhance a Youth Justice program often will look at Uniform Crime Reports (UCR’s), local juvenile arrest data (Police Departments often have this), School Reports, and other related data to help determine what types of cases to accept.

  • Referring agencies should be key partners. Youth Justice programs can close and even fail to begin without cases and written polices in place. Relationships are critical and so are professional duties and responsibilities.

National usa data indicates most youth justice programs
National (USA) Data IndicatesMost Youth Justice Programs…

  • DO NOT take any referrals that are of a Sexual, Violent and/or of a Psychological nature.

  • DO NOT take any cases that involve distribution of narcotics.

  • DO NOT take third time offenses and many do not take 2nd time offenses that have previously appeared in a Youth Justice program for Sentencing/Disposition

Before accepting referrals
Before Accepting Referrals

  • Have your municipal attorney’s office sign off on referral types to accept. An MOU should be in place with every referral source that is specific on process.

  • Pass or post a non-discriminating policy based on race, religion, income, etc…

  • Make sure to try and avoid any bias at referral – we want to strive to reduce DMC with this program.

  • Check confidentiality laws with your state criminal justice agency and AG’s Office.

The most common types of referrals youth justice programs accept are
The Most Common Types of Referrals Youth Justice Programs Accept are:

  • 1. Theft and Larceny

  • 2. Vandalism

  • 3. Alcohol Offenses

  • 4. Disorderly Conduct

Most common referrals continued
Most Common Referrals Accept are:(Continued)

  • 5. Simple Assault (or Battery)

  • 6. Possession/Use of Marijuana

  • 7. Tobacco Offenses

  • 8. Curfew Violations

Most common referrals continued1
Most Common Referrals Accept are:(Continued)

  • 9. School Disciplinary Cases

  • 10. Traffic Violations (not DWAI OR DWI) unless licenses revoked as per state law and the referral to the program is an added sanction like a certain number of community service hours would be.

Most common referrals continued2
Most Common Referrals Accept are:(Continued)

  • 11. Truancy, Skipping Classes and/or being late for School without parental/guardian approval.

  • 12. Criminal Trespass

  • 13. Criminal Mischief/Criminal Nuisance

Most common referrals continued3
Most Common Referrals Accept are:(Continued)

  • 14. Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (marijuana only – programs are strongly discouraged from taking any narcotic related paraphernalia).

  • 15. Drug Offenses other than marijuana or alcohol are strongly discouraged despite some programs accepting these.

Most common referrals continued4
Most Common Referrals Accept are:(Continued)

  • 16. Harassment

  • 17. Fraud

  • 18. Burglary

  • 19. False Reporting

Most common referrals continued5
Most Common Referrals Accept are:(Continued)

  • 20. Loitering

  • 21. Possession of Stolen Property

  • 22. Possession of a weapon referrals are accepted – it is discouraged to take anything that was intended for use and no guns and referrals only taken when law enforcement make the referral with official arrest. Often this referral is described as a Swiss army knife taken to school by mistake – this referral type should be thoroughly discussed.

Most common referrals continued6
Most Common Referrals Accept are:(Continued)

  • 23. Reckless Endangerment

  • 24. Regulatory Violations

  • 25. Runaways

  • 26. Unauthorized Use of Motor Vehicle

    (To include passengers driving with an unlicensed driver)

Consider this please
Consider this Please Accept are:

  • VICTIMS – Let us always consider the victims and involve them if they are agreeable – it adds to the program and many victims want this.

  • VICTIMS should always be compensated if they lost something and/or are owned compensation for damage. (When possible).

  • Police Officers are often vital partners and supporters. When ever possible – let the arresting officer know the outcome of the case even if the referral was not made by the police officer – it increases satisfaction with the program and referrals and involvement.

Consider this please1
Consider this Please Accept are:

  • Referral sources should be notified immediately about program completers and non-completers.

  • Non-Completers should be dealt with harsher than they would have, if they did not come through the program. Adults need to back the youth volunteers helping to operate the Youth Justice program so it does not turn in to a joke.

  • Programs close because of no and low numbers of referrals, maintain positive working relationships (program quality is paramount).

Need more information on referral types and referral sources
Need More Information on Accept are:Referral Types and Referral Sources?

For more information and suggestions on determining which types of referrals to accept and a wide range of resources, visit the Global Youth Justice website and click on the Publications Button.

For technical assistance, please contact:

Global Youth Justice