Independence Youth Court Peer Diversion
Independence Youth Court
The high rates of juveniles involved in criminal activities in Jackson County create an increased risk factor associated with violent behaviors and alcohol and drug use for teens. The Independence Youth Court (IYC) exists to hold juvenile offenders accountable for delinquent behaviors; to provide positive peer-led restorative justice, which promotes leadership and positive youth behavior; to increase juvenile offenders knowledge and enhance refusal skills to avoid criminal behavior, including drug use and violent activities; and to reduce repeated criminal behavior and involvement in the juvenile criminal justice system.
Independence Municipal Court • 111 E Maple Ave. • Independence, MO 64050
Independence Police Department • 223 N Memorial Dr. • Independence, MO 64050
816-325-7750 • independenceyc.com
2022 COMBAT Funding: $99,454.00
In Independence Youth Court's Own Words
The high rates of juveniles involved in criminal activities in Independence create an increased risk factor associated with violent behaviors and drug use for teens. The Independence Youth Court exists to hold juvenile offenders accountable for delinquent behavior; to provide positive peer-led restorative justice, which promotes leadership and positive youth behavior; to increase juvenile offenders’ knowledge and enhance their 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.
One Of The Oldest Diversion Courts In The Country
The Independence Youth Court (IYC) is a juvenile prevention peer court, which provides immediate sanctions for juvenile offenders. The court meets the requirement of an evidence-based program and has been recognized nationally by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) as a promising juvenile prevention program. The Independence Youth Court was established in 1985 and is the oldest continuously operating peer court in Missouri—and the Midwest. IYC is also one of the 10 oldest known youth diversion courts continuously operating in the United States.
The National Association of Youth Courts and the Global Youth Justice organizations recognize the value of Youth/Peer courts as successful prevention diversion programs, which promote restorative justice as an alternative to the traditional juvenile justice system.
Hearings Conducted Monthly
Peer Court adjudication hearings are conducted monthly by trained Youth Court 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 17 (which legally change to age 18 in Missouri in January 2021) are referred to Youth Court by the Independence Police Department.
The municipal/county ordinance violation cases include both status offenses (beyond parental control, curfew, runaway and truancy) and delinquent offenses (possession of alcohol, drugs, paraphernalia, tobacco/vape, assault, disorderly conduct, false information, harassment, possession of stolen property, property damage, shoplifting, minor traffic violations, trespassing and vandalism).
Sanctions Focus On Restorative Justice & Prevention Education
All court sanctions follow the National Youth Court Guidelines for restorative justice and prevention education. Victims of crimes such as assault, disorderly conduct, harassment, property damage, theft, and vandalism are given the opportunity to present victim impact statements to the court prior to the adjudication of the juvenile offender. The sentences in Youth Court require the juvenile to participate in community service to show accountability for their actions and to attend educational classes, which provides knowledge and life skills to reduce the future potential for delinquent behaviors such as violent activities, drug use and involvement in the criminal justice system.
The Youth Court follows the COMBAT prevention objectives to promote activities that will reduce the risk of juveniles' use of drugs, and participation in violent activities which cause involvement in the criminal justice system. The juveniles referred to Youth Court have exhibited risky and delinquent behaviors that are the first step in patterns of violence and drug abuse. The restorative justice peer intervention provided by Youth Court along with the court sanctions of educational classes and community service allows at-risk juveniles to participate in positive peer relationships, learn positive social behaviors, and learn resistance skills to refuse drugs and avoid violence, as well as other criminal activities, in the future.
Seven Education Programs
The Independence Youth Court provides the following seven educational programs for juvenile offenders:
- Advanced Alcohol and Drug Intervention
- Anger Management/Anti-Bullying
- Anger Management 2 and Decision Making Classes
- Fire Prevention
- Safe Streets Crime Resistance Intervention
- Shoplifting Diversion
- Truancy Prevention.
These classes are held in the evenings (Monday to Thursday) monthly or bi-monthly in the community room at the Independence Police Department. The new Tobacco/Vape Resistance class is also being held monthly(September through June) at the Independence Police Department (or online as needed). Due to COVID-19, the educational programs have been held online through the Zoom video platform.
These are the agencies that have a COMBAT-funded program with a diversion emphasis or component. Some of these programs might also be considered an alternative to the standard justice system.
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