The Mount Vernon Police Department is preparing to launch a Peer Diversion Youth Court in partnership with the Westchester County Attorney’s Office this Fall and we are looking to recruit a tribunal of young people between the ages of 12-17 to learn how to hear cases of offenses committed by other youth.
The Peer Diversion Youth Court will be offered as an alternative to Family Court whereas youth participants serve as judge, jury and advocates and impose sanctions that reflect restorative justice principles. Sanctions provide an opportunity for youth to redress the harm they have committed against the community and learn how to make better decisions going forward. The Mount Vernon Peer Diversion Youth Court will also link young people and their families to needed community resources that promote positive development and self sufficiency.
If you know of any youth between the ages of 12-18 who are interested in serving as a member of our new youth court, please let me know as soon as possible. The youth will be broken up into panels, based on age, so that respondents are able to have their case heard by a jury of their peers.
Training runs from July 28-August 25 on Wednesday’s from 2-4pm in City Hall. We had a larger number of youth express interest but much fewer have confirmed so we would like to recruit more between today and next week, just in case. If students are not available to attend today but are interested, we can host a makeup training session between now and next Wednesday so that they will be on schedule. We anticipate running the Peer Diversion Youth Court once a month with 1-2 additional days dedicated to case prep so there is a time commitment of 2-3 days per month that the youth would have to agree to for the Fall, Winter and Spring.