Brooklyn has them in Brownsville, Greenpoint and Red Hook
NEW YORK — Young people sometimes make bad decisions that can have lifetime consequences, especially if they get caught up in the adult criminal justice system.
For this reason, the New York State Bar Association is urging the Assembly and the Senate to pass legislation to allow the disposition of certain cases in Youth Court, where youths are held accountable for their actions by their peers.
In Brooklyn, there are currently Youth Courts in Brownsville, Greenpoint and Red Hook. The Greenpoint Youth Court celebrated its sixth year last week, honoring some of its youth staff members at a graduation ceremony on Java Street.
"Youth Courts have proven to be an effective tool in reducing recidivism, encouraging community participation and civic activity, instilling respect for the law and the legal system, and discouraging youths from engaging in criminal behavior as adults," said Brooklyn attorney and State Bar Association President Seymour W. James Jr.
In June 2010, then-State Bar President Stephen P. Younger created a Special Committee on Youth Courts led by former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and Schenectady attorney Patricia L.R. Rodriguez. The committee studied the effectiveness of existing Youth Courts, developed pilot programs and initiated other activities to establish and support Youth Courts around the state.
There are more than 80 Youth Courts operating in New York and about 1,200 throughout the United States. Some municipalities have been reluctant to establish their own Youth Courts without a better statutory framework for their operation, which is what this legislation would establish.
The legislation (S.7758 (Saland)/A.10708-A (Lentol)) would provide the statutory structure for courts to refer non-felony cases, involving individuals age 19 or under, to a Youth Court for sanction and disposition. The legislation would also provide for the district attorney's consent before a case could be referred to Youth Court.
Defendants would agree to accept the disposition meted out by the Youth Court, which often is counseling, restitution or community service. The criminal case would be adjourned in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) with the understanding that the individual successfully fulfills the Youth Court sentence.
June 22, 2012 - 2:38pm