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May 27, 2011 > Juvenile offenders get another chance

Juvenile offenders get another chance

By Meenu Gupta
Photos By Courtesy of Sharon Hollis

Tri-Cities Youth Court (TCYC) helps juvenile first time offenders by providing an opportunity to participate in a restorative justice-based diversion program. Today, more than 1400 youth courts operate in the United States. Serving Fremont, Union City and Newark, Tri-Cities Youth Court is a part of an umbrella organization, Community Youth Courts that includes the Tri Valley Youth Court. Tri Valley Youth Court has been serving the cities of Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin for more than three years.

TCYC celebrated its grand opening Wednesday, May 11 at the Fremont Hall of Justice on Paseo Padre Parkway in Fremont. The Contra Costa County Youth Court and Eden Township Youth Court's will open soon. "The youth court offers a restorative justice approach to youth offenders by providing them with education, experiences, and resources which encourage them to take responsibility for their actions, and make the decision to get their lives back on track," said Sharon Hollis, Program Director, Tri-Cities Youth Court. "Ultimately, the youth understands the impact and consequences of their choices, both for the present and the future, and is allowed to see that they have the power to choose a positive or negative direction." After admitting their guilt, offenders participate in the voluntary program which offers constructive counseling while ensuring respectful treatment of offender. The program empowers culprits through positive peer interaction. It provides another chance to give back to the community.

By discouraging repeat offenders of crime, Youth Courts help in reducing crime. TCYC receives the defendant's case from the Police Department or Alameda County Juvenile Probation for offenses that may include petty theft; possession or under the influence; cyber-bullying; traffic; curfew; tobacco; disorderly conduct and vandalism. "We do not have official recidivism numbers yet, but for the Tri- Valley Youth Court, as well as nationwide, the percentage of participants who reoffend is under ten percent," said Hollis who has also been a volunteer Case Manager for the Tri-Valley Youth Court.

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