YOUTH COURT PROGRAM

JUSD Youth Court

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office (“DA’s Office”) works in collaboration with the Jurupa Unified School District (“JUSD”), Riverside County Sherriff Department, and Reach Out (a local non-profit) to provide Student Youth Court (“Youth Court”) to junior high and high school students.

The innovative and award winning program, spearheaded by the Jurupa Unified School District, has been in effect in Jurupa Valley since 2014. Since that time, hundreds of youth have welcomed the opportunity to serve as volunteer jurors, court clerks, bailiffs, and court interpreters. Youth Court provides a unique opportunity for youth to become well versed in the legal system, while honing their public speaking, leadership, and empathy skills.

Youth Court strives to keep students in school and out of the criminal justice system. In lieu of suspension, expulsion, or criminal proceedings, youth are referred to Youth Court as a consequence for breaking the law, bullying, fighting, truancy, or violating other school rules. Student volunteers receive extensive training prior to serving as a juror in areas such as empathetic questioning and courtroom decorum.

Youth Court proceedings are completely voluntary and are entirely run by students with the assistance of an adult Hearing Officer. The student Respondent appears before seven student jurors and the Hearing Officer. The facts of the Respondent’s case are revealed through questioning by jurors and the Hearing Officer. At the conclusion of the questioning, the jurors retire for deliberations and then develop a disposition for the Respondent designed to emphasize the importance of education, having a voice, and caring about our community. Student dispositions may include, but are not limited to, writing a research essay on the offense (such as the dangers of marijuana, sexting, or bullying), community service, tutoring hours, attending counseling, or serving as a future Youth Court juror.

Youth Court recognizes how essential family support is to student success. Parents and guardians are strongly encouraged to attend and engage in the proceedings. After the disposition is rendered, the student and parent/guardian are assigned a case worker to assist in their journey to success.

Youth Court has received numerous awards and recognition. In 2017 alone, Youth Court was named the Model of Academic Excellence and Innovation by the Riverside County Office of Education and received a prestigious Golden Bell Award from the California School Boards Association.

For more information about the JUSD Youth Court please contact, Deputy District Attorney Kacey Sutton at kasutton@rivcoda.org

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TEMECULA, CA 92591

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