``Teen Court had an amazing impact on my life. Teen Court shows how people can change with the right chance.``
Former Team Court Member
``Teen Court provided me with a second chance at my youth as well as gave me an opportunity for a better future. Through my experiences with the program I have developed a set of moral standards beyond anything I've ever been taught before. ``
Former Teen Court Member
OUR 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 training, 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.
Teen Court is an innovative diversion program for first-time juvenile offenders. It is a real court that is run entirely by teen volunteers. We organize around youth empowerment and restorative justice.
We have two court processes:
COURTHOUSE HEARINGS: The Eureka Courthouse hearings have teens serving in the roles of jury, attorney, clerk, and judge, with an adult mentor judge and attorneys providing guidance. These hearings occur on the 1st & 3rd Thursdays of the month.
JURY COUNCILS: We also hold jury councils, which involve a handful of teens who sit and listen to the case and come up with an appropriate sentence along with the client. In Jury Councils there are no student attorneys or judges, just a jury of peers. Jury councils are held at the Teen Court office on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
In both processes, 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.
You start volunteering right away, but will still need to attend a group training when it occurs, which is typically in the fall and spring.
To learn more about learn more about the program see the brochure below. If you don’t want to apply online, you can also download an application here too.
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- the Teen Court Leaders.
Humboldt County Probation Department
Arcata Police Department Youth and Family Services Division
Humboldt County Superior Court
Eureka City Schools
Honorable Chris Wilson
Humboldt County Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission
Humboldt State University Social Work Department
Humboldt State University Criminology & Justice Studies, Sociology Department
Community Justice Network for Youth
Humboldt County Transition Age Youth Collaboration
Jonathan & Erin Flyer
Humboldt County Bar Association
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.
Jenny Downs came to the Teen Court as Program Coordinator in 2018. Jenny is a poet and a single mother of four awesome young adults who are all community activists of one kind or another. Prior to joining Teen Court, Jenny managed a successful Martial Arts School in the Bay Area where she also taught fitness and women’s self-defense classes. On the side, she taught creative writing workshops for youth and teens in local schools and summer camps. She developed an interest in Juvenile Justice when she signed on as a volunteer with The Beat Within, an organization that encourages incarcerated youth to find their voices through weekly writing workshops that produce writing for a bi-weekly printed magazine.In that volunteer role and through many conversations with incarcerated young people, Jenny found that she wanted to contribute to the movement towards rehabilitative justice for all. She is pleased to have the opportunity to follow this passion in a role where her daily tasks help local teens find success in their experience of, and service to, the Teen Court program. Outside of work, Jenny continues to bring the art of writing creatively into the lives of incarcerated youth while developing her own skills as a poet and teacher of creative writing in an MFA program.