Youth Court Provides an Alternative to the Juvenile Justice System

Layton Community Action Council pic
Layton Community Action Council
Image: laytoncac.org

Award winning insurance professional Val Stratford is the owner and principal agent of Stratford Insurance Group in Layton, Utah. In addition to this work, Val Stratford has served on several community boards and participated in charitable organizations, including as executive director of the Layton Community Action Council, a position he has held since 1999.

The Layton Community Action Council is a volunteer based nonprofit organization that supports the Layton community. The organization especially focuses its efforts on helping youth, and one of their major projects is the Layton Youth Court.

Founded in 1998, the Layton Youth Court provides an alternative to traditional juvenile criminal justice that can help divert minor, nonviolent infractions like truancy away from the real juvenile court and help prevent individuals from getting a permanent juvenile court record. The program trains high school age people to take on the roles of judges, clerks, and bailiffs, so youth offenders can be put on trial by their peers. These courts do not determine guilt, but do hold juvenile offenders accountable for their actions by providing real consequences that are also supportive of the person on trial. Common consequences include community service, peer counseling, and classes that can help provide the young person with better life skills.

Individuals between the ages of 10 and 17 are eligible for the voluntary youth court. They are not eligible, however, if they have appeared in the youth court within the last 12 months, or if they already have a juvenile court record. To date, the court has seen 1,652 cases and has averaged an 86 percent completion rate.

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