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Youth Court provides options, experience to young offenders

September is National Youth Court Month, and Topeka Youth Project is celebrating 15 years of providing Youth Court to Topeka/Shawnee County youth.

This program is youth-led and youth-driven by 13- to 18-year-old students. The judge, prosecutor, defense attorney, jurors, bailiff, court clerk and defendants are all teenagers. They hear cases of first-time traffic offenders with misdemeanor charges.

As a juror, the youth decide the sanctions to be imposed upon the offender. Sanctions can range from community service, written or oral apologies, essays related to the offense and/or improving grades. Participants serve as a juror in 2 future cases.

The next Youth Court will be held September 19, at 5:30 pm at the County Court House, 3rd floor.

Youth Court provides young adults with education on the legal and judicial system, which many times causes youth to rethink their views on delinquent behaviors. This often leads youth to adopt more pro-social attitudes. This outcome ultimately has the ability to enhance safety in our community.

Any youth that would like to be a court officer, or has their first ticket, may call 273-4141 for more information. Youth Court is held the 3rd Thursday of each month.

Topeka Youth Project is a 501(c)3 grassroots organization and has been in operation since 1983 serving more than 5,800 young adults in the Jobs for Young Adults Program, and the Youth Council/Youth Court has provided more than 75,000 hours of community service to Topeka/Shawnee County.

–Lee Hartman | Metro Voice

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