Riverton Youth Court offers an alternative approach to juvenile justice in which youth referred for minor offenses are sentenced by a jury of their peers. Youth Court employs a restorative justice-based approach that applies the skills and abilities of Riverton City juveniles to provide a positive peer influence, to hold youth accountable for their actions, and to strengthen their ties to school and community. Youth Court is an alternative to Juvenile Court for many first-time offenders and costs $50. The program has three components:
- Court Hearings
- Peer Mediation
- Peer Mentoring
Referred youth must admit to the charge and must voluntarily agree to attend the program.
Court hearings are held the second and fourth Tuesday from September through May starting at 6 pm. The Riverton Court Room is located at 12830 S Redwood Road, Riverton, Utah 84065. MAP IT
Panels of youth volunteers trained in restorative justice principals conduct court hearings. They deliberate and come to a consensus on a disposition (sentence), which focuses on:
- Making youth aware of the harmful effects of their actions and creating opportunities to repair the harm they have caused.
- Increasing competencies to be productive members of society.
- Connecting the youth to the community.
A return hearing date sets a time limit for the completion of the disposition requirements. A brief return hearing provides an opportunity for the youth to give feedback about what they have learned from their experiences and notice of completion from the court. In cases of non-compliance, the youth are referred back to the referral source, and may be referred to the Juvenile Court.
Youth Court assists referred youth in changing problem behaviors by offering healthy activities as part of the disposition, thereby integrating them into positive community organizations and resources. The following are some of the disposition options utilized by the Youth Court:
- Anger Management
- Apology Letters
- Community Service at a Variety of Community Agencies
- Individual and Family Counseling
- Life Skills Classes and Youth Support Groups
- Mentor/Mentee Meetings
- Tobacco, Drug, and Alcohol Classes
- Written Reports
- Youth Court Panel Duty
A second component of the program is ongoing peer mentoring. The court intervention is extended with weekly contact by panel members, who volunteer to be the peer mentors for the referred youth during the time that they are completing their dispositions. The mentors support compliance with the requirements, encourage responsibility, and validate positive behaviors, thus strengthening the referred youth’s ties to positive peer role models.
Youth Court utilizes the skills and abilities of a diverse population of Riverton youth. The program helps to eliminate geographical and social barriers and unites youth throughout the city as they collaborate to intervene with referred youth. Youth volunteers commit to participation for one school year. Training is held in August. This program presents a model for the belief that a diverse group of students can work together and come to a consensus on clear, positive standards for behavior.
As mentors, role models, and as key planners in the community, they realize they can make a difference in their own and others' lives.
Restorative justice principles provide the foundation for the collaborative approach on which the program is based. Advisors and students receive extensive training on:
- Bias Awareness
- Communication Skills
- Conflict Resolution
- Courtroom Processes
- State Statutes
- Team Building Activities
- You must be in grade 9-12 for the 2023-24 school year.
- Attend a high school in Riverton and/or be a Riverton City resident.
- You must be able to attend Youth Court every 2nd and 4th Tuesday from September-May.
- You must complete 20 hours of training prior to being on the court. This training happens in the summer.
- You must pass a criminal background check.
- There is a mandatory introductory training on Thursday, August 10.
How to Apply
Youth that have been referred to Youth Court in the past and successfully completed their disposition "sentence" are allowed to apply to be members of the Youth Court Panel. When youth do this course, it does not go on their official record.