Student Support Services: Teen Peer Court
Youth Court Summit, 2007
The purpose of Teen Peer Court is to divert first offender juveniles from the more formal Juvenile Court. Developed as part of the Santa Cruz County Juvenile Justice System, high school students convene as a court and determine the appropriate judgment for each case referred from the Santa Cruz County Probation Department and School Resource Officers. These are real cases. Teens have admitted the underlying offense and have elected to be judged by their peers. Teen Peer Court is based upon the premise that youthful offenders will more readily accept responsibility for their actions when judged and sentenced by their peers.
The Santa Cruz County Teen Peer Court reaches over 2,000 youth annually through youth participation as jurors, attorneys, clerks, baliffs, youth offenders, and courtroom observers.
During the 2002/2003 academic year, we expanded our traditional Teen Peer Court to Watsonville and developed a new Santa Cruz court program focused on teen substance abuse. This new court provides the same courtroom environment as our traditional Teen Peer Court, with additional follow-up components of Drug Education Workshops, Individual Substance Abuse Assessment, and drug and alcohol counseling as part of the program.
Youth involved with Teen Peer Court are part of a live civics lesson. They develop public speaking skills, practice problem solving, determine legally binding sanctions for their peers, fulfill community service hours, and have the opportunity to experience job shadowing/mentoring from members of the justice community.
To volunteer as a teen participant, adult attorney mentor, or for more information, please contact the Teen Peer Court Coordinator.
Teen Peer Court Coordinator
Teen Peer Court Hotline
2007-2008 Teen Peer Court Hearings Schedule (Acrobat Reader required)
Teen Courts: A Focus on Research (Acrobat Reader required)
Jury of their peers, article in the Register-Pajaronian, by Katherin Morris, published May 6, 2004
National Youth Court Center