Humboldt County Teen Court
Teen Court is an innovative diversion program for first-time juvenile offenders. It is a real court of law that is entirely operated by youth volunteers (teen jurors, teen attorneys, clerk, and judge), with an adult mentor judge and attorneys providing guidance. The teen jury focuses on coming up with a restorative sentence that will help the offender to repair harms and learn from their mistake. These courts are designed to empower youth, promote accountability, provide access to youth resources, and model peer leadership. Teen Courts have succeeded in hundreds of communities across the country because they offer an important educational opportunity for young people to learn about how the justice system works and put civics into practice.
Teen Court is a collaborative program involving the Humboldt County Probation Department, the Humboldt County Superior Court, local police departments and schools, and other community service entities.
Teen Court offers two track levels of involvement. Everyone starts out with an initial 2 hour training, and volunteers as much or as little as they like. Then at the 2nd semester or the end of the year, youth have the opportunity to decide to join a more intensive track- so, they’ll either be on Track 1 or Track 2.
- TRACK 1: Volunteer to serve in positions for restorative proceedings. Volunteer as little or as much as you like.
- TRACK 2: The more intensive track is the TEEN COURT LEADERS PROGRAM, which is geared towards a more involved and committed group of volunteers that meets every Thursday during the school year. Work on court improvements, recruiting and training new volunteers, receive advanced training, make presentations in community and go on field trips
Specifically, Teen Court Leaders activities include:
- Gain skills to advocate for youth involved in the justice system
- Lead jury trainings and attorney trainings for new volunteers
- Plan and coordinate activities, presentations, fundraisers, and community activism
- Learn more about the criminal justice field from professionals, professors, and others in the field
- Create Teen Court outreach materials like pins, stickers, flyers, and more
- Attend out of town conferences and field trips, like California Youth Court Summit every summer
GET STARTED WITH TEEN COURT IN 3 EASY STEPS:
Youth Volunteers (grades 8-12)
1) Watch our ORIENTATION VIDEO
2) Fill out our APPLICATION and Video Quiz
3) Start volunteering immediately! But you will still need to attend a group training when it occurs, which is typically in the fall and spring
Watch our TEEN COURT ORIENTATION video:
1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month
2nd, 4th and 5th Thursdays of the month, September-May
The mission of Humboldt County Teen Court is to provide restorative justice and harm reduction alternatives to the juvenile justice system. We empower youth ages 13-18 with skills, resources, and opportunities to be accountable for their harms and to positively contribute to their communities, schools, and peer groups. Teen Court accomplishes these goals through peer accountability, educational opportunities, youth leadership trainings, Brief Interventions for Substance Using Adolescents program, and a youth court where teen volunteers hear real juvenile criminal cases and determine a restorative sentence that Teen Court monitors.
Watch Teen Court Rights and Stereotypes by volunteer Tehva Kastel Riggan
Watch 1/2 hr program JUSTICE FOR AND BY YOUTH: Youth Courts and Accountability Circles
Teen Court Article written by student for The Eureka High School Bark Newspaper (scroll down & two articles are on the right "Justice For and By Teens" & "Community Service")
Director Sacha Marini
Sacha began working with the Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods in June of 2007 as Program Assistant of Teen Court. In 2010, Sacha became Director of the program. She has an extensive background of championing restorative justice and human rights in the criminal system. In 1999, she co-founded Bar None, a prisoner advocacy and human rights organization. From 2000-2010, she volunteered with California Prison Focus, a legal advocacy organization based in San Francisco that monitors and reports on the conditions of confinement at super max prisons in California. Inspired by her volunteer work, she obtained a Paralegal Certificate and an Associate of Science Degree in Paralegal Studies from College of the Redwoods in 2006. She then interned with several attorneys and the Public Defender’s office before starting her work with the Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods.
Sacha was initially interested in joining the Boys & Girls Club of the Redwoods Teen Court program because she loved the idea of giving youth an opportunity to make a difference in their community and empowering them to get positively involved in the justice system. Sacha remains loyal because she has seen the impact we make on youth and their families first-hand. She sees the motto “Great Futures Start Here!” embodied in our program when offenders come to Teen Court for an offense but wish to continue volunteering after the completion of their sentence because they have found a new positive group of friends or a valuable venue where their input and presence makes a lasting impact in another youth’s life.
Program Assistant Kelsey Reedy
Kelsey Reedy became Teen Court Program Assistant as of November 2015. She has done an internship through Teen Court while obtaining her undergraduate degree. She also filled in as a temporary employee this past summer for us but is very excited about the opportunity to become fully entrenched in Teen Court’s work. Kelsey graduated in May of 2013 with a B.A. in Sociology with an emphasis in Criminology and Justice Studies. During her senior year at HSU, Kelsey organized and implemented a multiple day community and campus event called the Criminal Justice Dialogue where many local speakers and activists presented information on the impacts of incarceration and some of the restorative justice alternatives that are offered here in Humboldt County. This is during the same time that completing her senior thesis on Restorative Justice vs. Retributive Justice. The knowledge that Kelsey gained from HSU created a passion strong enough to dedicated her life's work to doing everything within her power to not only understand the system and its effects but also to support and advocate for those who have been impacted by the criminal justice system. Kelsey has also been doing an internship for about a year with Incarcerated Voices, a radio broadcast focused on exploring the circumstances and conditions of incarceration through the eyes, ears, and hearts of the people who are incarcerated. She also is an active volunteer through California Prison Focus where she travels to Pelican Bay Penitentiary to interview people in solitary confinement regarding their prison conditions. Kelsey has had a passion for youth since she was a youngster herself and sees this opportunity to divert youth from contact with the system as the perfect starting point for her life’s work.