Tulsa Youth Court is a volunteer program for area high school students coordinated by Youth Services of Tulsa, Inc., in collaboration with the Oklahoma Bar Association Young Lawyers Division and the Indian Nation’s Council of the Boy Scouts of America’s Explorer Post Division. All participants in Tulsa Youth Court excel in youth leadership, community youth development, youth-adult partnerships, and an unwavering commitment to improving their community. These young adults, who donate their time during evening hours, demonstrate a willingness to provide services that are beneficial to others.
Since 1994, volunteer high school students have staffed Tulsa Youth Court, serving the juvenile court system by offering first time, misdemeanor juvenile offenders the opportunity to have a trial conducted by their peers. The Youth Court participants must attend a one night a week, seven-week training, pass a comprehensive test covering the training, and commit time to serve the court when called upon.
These trained youth participate in actual courtroom trials in the roles of judge, prosecuting attorney, defense attorney, court clerk, and bailiff. The court participants divert early offenders from further involvement in the juvenile justice system. The defendants, through the court of their peers, have the opportunity to learn about the consequences of their actions. Ninety-seven percent of the first time offenders who go through this program do not commit a second offense.
Currently, there are 188 dedicated youth serving the community and saving taxpayer dollars through the Tulsa Youth Court program, by providing a peer-court system for youth who would otherwise have to be seen by judges serving the juvenile court system. Through the use of courtroom trials, the participants educate defendants so that their first offense will be their last.