Youth court receives cases with a restorative justice framework in mind. This peer-to-peer trial court approach requires first time, low level offenders to complete unique reparations that are geared towards enriching their community; more importantly, these reparative acts aim to foster a sense of pride for their community. For first time offenders, youth court is an alternative to a traditional juvenile court and detention system. As of March 2010, there were over 1,050 youth court programs in operation in 49 states and the District of Columbia¹.
In 2002, the New Bedford Youth Court (NBYC) became the first established youth court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with the Fall River Youth Court following in 2009. Greater Boston Youth Court functions within Suffolk County is available to all of its municipalities. GBYC provides:
- Defendants a peer-driven trial, with both youth lawyers and a youth judge
- Community-based sanctions that connect youth to their communities
- A unique opportunity for first-time offenders to fix delinquent behavior and avoid a record
- Teenage offenders a positive experience in the judicial system, thereby reducing recidivism and helping deter the possibility of committing other crimes.