By engaging teen volunteers in meaningful service learning as courtroom personnel, Lutheran Social Services Youth Court youth provides an opportunity for youth who have been charged with an offense or are referred to our program by school administrators to be held accountable for their actions in positive and educational ways.
The program is an alternative to formal court proceedings for juveniles in the Fargo/Moorhead area, with referrals from East Central Juvenile Court, Clay County Attorney’s Office, and local schools. The youth who go through Lutheran Social Services Youth Court proceedings are held accountable for their actions, while at the same time are able to keep their records clean and learn from their mistakes by discovering the human impact of their offense.
Youth volunteers serve as jurors and courtroom personnel to decide the disposition of cases in which the defendants have already admitted their guilt.
How the process works
Prior to the court session, the juvenile and their parent or guardian meet with the program coordinator to discuss program requirements. At the court session, the peer jury hears the case, asks questions and deliberates to decide the consequences of the offense for the offender. Dispositions are intended to fit the offense, be educational and preventative. Typical disposition requirements include:
- Apology to the victim
- Various educational programs
- Alcohol or drug awareness programs
- Tutoring and mentoring programs
- Youth Court jury duty
- Volunteer work in the community
If the youth completes the terms of their disposition, no formal court record is kept of their offense. If they do not complete the terms of their disposition, their case is sent back to the referral source for further action.
We currently have the following volunteer opportunity available:
Youth Court Volunteer (ages 11-17)
Thanks to these organizations for their support: United Way of Cass-Clay, Nellie Svee, North Dakota Juvenile Court, FM Area Foundation, Otto Bremer Foundation, West Fargo Exchange Club, Kiwanis Club of Fargo.