Independence Youth Court Peer Diversion

The high rates of juveniles involved in criminal activities in Jackson County create an increased risk factor associated with violent behavior and drug use for teens. The Independence Youth Court exists to hold juvenile offenders accountable for delinquent behavior and to provide positive peer-led restorative justice, which promotes leadership and positive youth behavior. The Independence Youth Court (IYC) increases juvenile offenders' knowledge and enhance refusal skills to avoid criminal behavior, including violent acts and drug use, and to reduce repeated criminal behavior and involvement in the criminal justice system.

The IYC is a juvenile prevention peer court that provides immediate sanctions for juvenile offenders. The court meets the requirements of an evidence-based program as a model recognized nationally by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) as a promising juvenile prevention program.

A Model Court

Independence Youth Court was established in 1985 and is the oldest continuously operating peer court in Missouri and the Midwest. IYC has been recognized by Global Youth Justice (GYJ) as one on the 10 oldest known continuously operating peer courts in the United States. 

The National Association of Youth Courts and GYJ recognize the value of Youth-Peer-Teen Courts as successful prevention diversion programs, which promote positive peer pressure and restorative justice as an alternative to the traditional juvenile justice criminal court system.

IYC peer adjudication hearings are conducted bi-monthly by trained student volunteers (ages 13 to 18), with adult volunteers, and under the supervision of an adult Municipal Court Judge. The criminal cases for juveniles ages 7 to 18 are referred to IYC by the Independence Police Department and may also be referred from the Jackson County Family Court.

Community Service & Apology Required

The municipal ordinance violation cases include both status offenses (beyond parental control, curfew, runaway, truancy) and delinquent offenses (aiding in the commission of a crime, assault, disorderly conduct, false information, harassment, possession of alcohol, drugs, paraphernalia, tobacco-vapes, possession of stolen property, resisting-interfering, stealing-shoplifting, minor traffic violations, trespassing, vandalism).

All court sanctions follow the National Youth Court Guidelines for restorative justice and prevention education. Victims of violent crimes are given the opportunity to present victim impact statements to the court prior to the adjudication of the juvenile offenders.

The sentences in Youth Court require the juvenile to participate in community service and written apologies to any victims to show accountability for their actions. In addition, juveniles must attend educational classes which provide knowledge and life skills to reduce the future potential for delinquent behaviors which lead to further involvement in the criminal justice system.

The Youth Court follows the COMBAT prevention objectives to promote activities that will reduce the risk of juveniles' violent actions and drug use and involvement in the criminal justice system. All juveniles referred to IYC have exhibited risky and delinquent behaviors which are the first steps in patterns of violence and drug use.


Click on the window icon (upper right corner) of the map below to expand. List of all program locations is included with expanded view of map. Locations are also listed on this page below the map.

816-325-7750 •

2023 COMBAT Funding:

2023 Service Projection:
600 People

Areas Of Focus

Independence City Hall, 111 E Maple Ave, Independence, MO 64050

Independence Police Department, 223 N Memorial Dr, Independence, MO 64050

Independence Fire Administration, 950 N Spring St, Independence, MO 64050

Grain Valley Community Center, 713 N Main St, Grain Valley, MO 64029

Woods Chapel United Methodist Church, 4725 NE Lakewood Way, Lee's Summit, MO 64064