Youth Court

The Syracuse City Youth Court is now accepting youth and adult volunteer applications for the 2019-2020 school year.  See details below on how to apply today!  

Syracuse City Youth Court

The Syracuse City Youth Court provides an alternative approach to juvenile justice in which youth referred for minor offenses are sentenced and mentored by their peers. Referred youth must voluntarily agree to attend the program.  Syracuse City Youth Court is a court diversion program certified by the Utah Youth Court Association under the Utah Youth Court Diversion Act. The Syracuse City Youth Court is under the direction of Syracuse City Police Department.

Restorative Justice

Using a restorative justice-based approach, The Court provides early intervention for a variety of offenses, such as truancy, fighting, tobacco/alcohol, theft, bullying, trespassing, assault and disorderly conduct. Restorative Justice holds the referred youth accountable for their actions; provides educational experiences to assist them in building the skills necessary to change their problem behaviors; and helps them strengthen their ties to school, community, and positive peer role models. Youth offenders are also required to repair or restore harm caused by their offence when possible. By attending and successfully completing all requirements of The Youth Court, a juvenile offender does not appear in Juvenile Court Youth does not receive a criminal record for the offense.

Youth Court Hearings

The youth volunteer members of the court are Syracuse residents ages 14 to 18 in grades 9-12. They hold the positions of mentor, clerk, bailiffs, judges and teacher.  These youth volunteers conduct court hearings each Thursday evening in the Syracuse City Building Council Chambers.  The youth volunteers who adjudicate and mentor the youth offenders, receive training in conflict resolution, mediation, bias awareness, communication skills, peer mentoring, state statutes, team building skills, and courtroom procedures. The adult advisors, also residents of Syracuse, receive similar training and provide support and guidance when needed.

In a typical court hearing, a panel of three to seven youth volunteers question the youth offender and parent(s)/guardians(s) to gain an understanding of the youth and the offense. The panel members deliberate and assign a disposition (sentence) which provides educational and/or community service opportunities. The disposition contract can include community service for the youth, educational opportunities, vocational training, social activities, individual/family counseling, and/or other conditions as the panel sees fit. During deliberation, one youth volunteer is selected to be the personal mentor for the offender who follows-up with them by phone or in person between court hearings. In a separate component of the program, youth volunteers teach classes in choices and life skills. 

Return hearings are also conducted by the youth volunteer panel with the offender to report on disposition contract progress and make changes if needed. Referred youth who are successful in Youth Court graduate from the program. Those who are unsuccessful are closed non-compliant and the referral is sent back to the source (usually the police department) for further processing.

All court hearings are held in strict confidence and are not discussed outside the Youth Court proceedings.

Youth Volunteers

Youth volunteers conduct court hearings and develop dispositions (sentences) for referred youth. Youth volunteers base dispositions on the three principles of restorative justice: accountability, skill development, and community connection. Rather than punish referred youth, Youth Court’s youth volunteers support them by encouraging them to reach their full academic, social, and creative potential.

Outside of the courtroom, youth volunteers mentor referred youth every week by meeting at the court in person or communicating over the phone. By providing weekly support and guidance, youth volunteers harness the positive aspects of peer pressure to encourage responsibility, personal growth through pro-social skill development, and community connection.

  • Commitment:  One academic school year; up to 3 hours per week; 2.5 hours on Thursday evenings and 0.5 hour during the week by phone. Volunteers attend court at the Syracuse City Hall on Thursday evenings during the Davis School District’s academic school year. Court is not held on holidays nor school breaks.
  • Qualifications:  
    • Residents of Syracuse City who will be in the 9th 10th, 11th, or 12th grade for the 2019/2020 school year.
    • Strong interpersonal skills
    • Commitment to confidentiality, honesty, and ethics
    • Minimum GPA of 3.0
    • No “U”/Unsatisfactory Citizenship scores

Adult Advisor Volunteers

Adult volunteers are an integral component of the program. Their role is strictly advisory, as the title implies. They offer guidance, when needed, and debrief panel members after the hearings. They also monitor the mentoring process with the mentors and the referred youth’s parents.

The goal of this position is to foster an environment that empowers the students to take ownership of processing the issues that come before them and assist in the ongoing learning process.

  • Commitment:  Thursday evenings and as willing during the week. Volunteers attend court at the Syracuse City Hall on Thursday evenings during the Davis School District’s academic school year. Adult Advisors are also required to attend various planning, training, and other meetings throughout the year.
  • Qualifications:  
  • Resident of Syracuse City
  • Must pass background check
  • Enjoy working with youth
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Commitment to confidentiality, honesty, and ethics
  • Demonstrated ability to work in a team environment, to work with diverse groups of people, and to collaborate with other community organizations
  • No court experience is necessary.  Advisors will be provided with all necessary training.

Apply to Volunteer

The Syracuse City Youth Court is now accepting volunteer applications for the 2019-2020 school year.  If you'd like to join, please complete the Youth Volunteer Application  or the Adult Advisor Application. Applications should be submitted to youthcourt@syracuseut.com.