Youth Court Gives Kids a Second Chance

McCullum Youth Court FlyerI am appalled by what the Division of Juvenile Justice is doing to the youth that are there. I feel like they should have better treatment towards the youth -- youth shouldn’t be treated like animals but as human beings. Overall, there needs to be changes to youth prisons because everything that is happening is violating the Constitution and the youth’s rights.

I currently volunteer at McCullum Youth Court. This is a diversion program that youth can go through to get a second chance at life. Their mission is to “Offer youth offenders a second chance through restorative justice, peer accountability, and empowering opportunities; and to engage all youth – especially those at risk for entering the juvenile justice system - in expansive experiences related to law and justice with the aim of changing young lives and impacting communities.”

This program is such a great help to the youth offenders. When they go through the program they have to take classes, do community service and do jury duty at youth court, where their peers are judging youth and giving them their sentencing. Once they are done with the program, their records are clean and they will be able to apply to college, jobs, and scholarships without having a record. Also they can go through the program as a volunteer where you learn how to be an attorney, clerk, or bailiff and get to use these skills when you judge your peers at court.

McCullum Youth Court is so much better than the DJJ. Youth Court, unlike the DJJ, helps youth understand the mistakes that they have made. On the other side, the DJJ is not teaching youth how to fix their mistakes or grow from their mistakes. Also, Youth Court gives youth offenders a second chance at life where they will be able to be a human being and gain gratitude for life. The DJJ doesn’t help youth understand what is right from wrong, and instead, dehumanizes youth into thinking they are not worth anything.

We need to fight for what is right, help the youth who are being abused in the youth prisons and give them a second chance at life so that they can value their lives instead of hating themselves. Will you stand with me?

Paul Castro was a Heal The Streets Fellow. He is an intern at Books Not Bars as part of the Center for Youth Development Through Law's Summer Legal Fellowship program.