Ketchikan Youth Court Holds Spring 2002 Graduation
New Youth Court Members Sworn In
April 13, 2002
Superior Court Judge Trevor Stephens officiated over the ceremony and explained the seriousness of the tasks ahead of the new Youth Court members. After being sworn in, each graduate was presented a certificate and a rose.
The new Ketchikan Youth Court graduates, ages 12-18, took part in an eight week course taught by Magistrate Mary E. Guss and Attorney Dennis McCarty. The classes were designed to prepare the students with the skills to participate in Youth Court proceedings. After passing the youth bar exam and taking part in several mock trials, the graduates will now be able to take on active roles as Youth Court judges, attorneys, bailiffs, and clerks and to handle misdemeanors and violations which would include but not be limited to petty theft, harassment, concealment, minor consuming, curfew, and smoking violations. New Youth Court members are teamed up with other members who have been in the program longer.
The Ketchikan Youth Court is tasked with working with first time offenders. In order to come before the Youth Court for sentencing, the offender must plead guilty. Youth Court members then determine the sentence for these first time offenders and use creative sentencing options such as community service, restitution and essays. The Youth Court must stay within the sentencing parameters as established by the Alaska State Court System in determining sentences.
The Ketchikan Youth Court members take pride in emphasizing "Restorative Justice." Currently there are 40 active members in the Ketchikan Youth Court and sixty-two students have taken part in the Youth Court classes. Youth Court members have handled 42 cases referred from Juvenile Probation or District Court since November 2000. According to the KYC, recidivism rate by offenders after being sentenced in the Ketchikan Youth Court is reported at 13% giving the Ketchikan Youth Court an 87% success rate to date.
Youth Court members have determined innovative and creative sentencing such as picture books and essays on a specific theme relating to healthy lifestyles and making good choices. Victims are encouraged to be involved in the process or have their victim impact statements read in the courtroom. Other sentences have included apology letters to victims, community service that reinforces giving back to the community and giving offenders an opportunity to take responsibility. JASAP classes, observing adult hearing, tutoring children who need help with subjects and restitution are other sentence alternatives imposed.
The Ketchikan Youth Court extended a special thank you to Magistrate Mary E. Guss and Dennis McCarty for instructing classes. Both Guss and McCarty have been involved in the KYC program since 1999. Special guests included James Scott, Judge Kevin Miller and Magistrate Teresa Chenall.
Following the ceremony, refreshments were served.
In an upcoming future activity, the Ketchikan Youth Court plans to take four youth and two adults to the State Youth Court conference which will be held May 18th - 19th in Valdez, Alaska. Youth who are interested in attending the State Youth Court conference are required to write a 300 word, typed essay on "Restorative Justice" and how restorative justice is utilized by the Ketchikan Youth Court. April 25th is the deadline for the essays. Travel to the State Youth Court conference will be funded by local organizations and businesses.
The Ketchikan Youth Court is interested in hosting the 2002 State Conference in Ketchikan. For community members who would like to help make this a reality, contact Gretchen Klein at the KYC by calling 907-225-2293.
The Ketchikan Youth Court is funded by the Division of Juvenile Justice and managed by the Southeast Regional Resource Center.
Source of Information:
Digital photos by Gigi Pilcher