DA Quinn Commits $25,000 to Youth Court, Keeps Program Running

During a press conference on November 2, 2015, District Attorney Tom Quinn announced a $25,000 commitment to New Bedford and Fall River Youth Courts – both of which were slated to be shut down for loss of funding. The DA’s office, along with the Fall River School Department and the Executive Office of Public Safety, collectively provided enough funds to keep both programs active. The $25,000 commitment will come entirely from funds seized from drug trafficking cases in Bristol County.

The District Attorney’s Office supports Youth Court as a form of alternative sentencing for first-time youthful offenders committing low-level crimes. Youth Courts serve as an opportunity for offending youth to learn from their mistakes, make amends with the victims and/or those affected, and perform valuable community service hours. It prevents them from having a criminal record, which can adversely affect their ability to get a job, obtain financial aid, and get accepted into college, to name a few.  Additionally, youth who do not receive support through early intervention often continue to commit crimes throughout the course of their lives.

Youth Courts are facilitated almost entirely by volunteers. Other youth serve as “prosecutors” and comprise the “jury of peers” that decide each offending youth’s sanctions. Adult professionals in the field also volunteer their time to mentor the youth “prosecutors,” as well as serve as Youth Court judges. Since September, 2007, 42 DA’s office employees have contributed more than 1,100 hours of volunteer service to South Coast Youth Courts.

Youth Court is an proven, effective, and successful alternative to traditional prosecution. According to program organizers, 92% of participants successfully completed their sanctions and less than 32% reoffended within a 3-year period.

For more information on the Fall River and New Bedford Youth Court programs, open and view this pdf.

For a one-page fact sheet on South Coast Youth Courts, open and view this pdf.

For more photos of the press conference, visit our gallery on Facebook here.