High School students act as judge, jury, and attorney in cases of their peers
High school students learn the ins and outs of the legal process by participating in Nassau County Youth Court, an opportunity for students who commit low-level offenses to be adjudicated by their peers. Youth volunteers from local high schools staff all positions in the court including judge, community advocate and defense advocate (similar to role of prosecutor and defense attorney), bailiff, and court clerk. During a hearing, respondents have a chance to present his or her case to the youth jury, judge, and advocates. One presiding juror and a panel of jury members question the respondent, parent and other witnesses. The youth community advocate ensures that the impact of the respondent’s behavior is explored, and the defense advocate supports the respondent and ensures that sufficient information is provided about the respondent’s circumstances.
After the hearing, the jury deliberates and decides on a fair and beneficial sanction for their peer using restorative justice goals. Common sanctions include community service, oral and written apologies, essays, jury duty, restitution, curfew and tutoring. Youth Court teaches young people early on that there are consequences to breaking the rules and the law and it provides the volunteers an opportunity to learn about the law and the criminal justice process. Youth Court also gives the volunteers the chance to develop advocacy skills they can use now and in the future. For more information email Kara.Kaplan@nassauda.org.
Youth Summer Camp at Molloy College
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice has partnered with Molloy College and local schools to offer elementary school children an opportunity to spend a few weeks at a day camp at Molloy College in Rockville Centre. Our office, the college, and the schools each share in the cost of this extraordinary camp. Youth are served by camp counselors from Molloy College engaging the youth in recreation, arts, and sports while teachers assigned from their schools provide academic enrichment. Staff from the District Attorney also provides crime prevention experiences including visits from the police department as well as legal problem solving games. For more information contact either Risco.Lewis@nassauda.org or Molloy College 678-5000.
Young people don’t always know how to conduct themselves when stopped by law enforcement. Through presentation, role play, and discussion we teach young people (and adults if needed) what to do when stopped by law enforcement. This interactive workshop is a practical and fun forum demonstrating to youth and adults the proper way to interact with law enforcement. Depending on the time available and the audiences, the presentation can be enriched with speakers from police, civil liberties, and associations such as the Guardians, an association of black and Latino law enforcement officers. The workshop is from 45 minutes to 2 hour and is suitable for class size groups to full auditoriums.
Our youth need mentors and District Attorney Kathleen Rice strongly supports this important initiative. Community Affairs staff members work with a variety of school and community groups to expand mentoring services. With the help of the Mentoring Partnership of Long Island, members of the DA's staff, including lawyers, investigators, and paraprofessionals, mentor elementary and middle school children in Uniondale and Hempstead every week. In addition to the one to one mentoring, mentees receive life skill workshops as well as field trips including trips to the court and a luncheon at the Bar Association. Evaluations of the work underscores that the youth show improved behavior, better grades, and a happier outlook on life.
If you have any questions about any Community Affairs programs, please call (516) 571-1090 or email Rene.Fiechter@nassauda.org.