Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts | 501 S. Sapodilla Ave, WPB, FL 33401

THE MUSE

Happening Now
  • April 8Grad Bash April 12th at 1 p.m. in Universal Studios Orlando
  • April 8Spring into College Series on April 11th at 11:19 a.m. in the Media Center
  • April 8No School on April 10th
  • April 8Juniors Rising Seniors Photographs on April 8th and 9th during Language Arts class in the Media Center
  • April 8Pops Concert on April 9th at 6:30 p.m. in Meyer Hall
Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts | 501 S. Sapodilla Ave, WPB, FL 33401

THE MUSE

Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts | 501 S. Sapodilla Ave, WPB, FL 33401

THE MUSE

Youth Court Changes Lives of Defendants and Jurors

Youth+Court+Changes+Lives+of+Defendants+and+Jurors
Joel Soto

With their right hands raised, the jurors recited the oath aloud. The judge slammed the gavel down and the bailiff shouted, “Palm Beach County Youth Court is now in session!” Each week, a juvenile first offender is tried during Youth Court in a real courthouse. Students comprised not only a jury of their peers, but volunteer acted as the prosecutors and defense attorneys on the cases. Many Dreyfoos students who belong to the Youth Court and Law Studies (YCLS) Club participated in this organization.

 

Founded in 1995, the Palm Beach County Youth Court allowed juvenile first offenders (JFO) a chance to remove misdemeanor infractions from their records by following a constructive sentence and to change the direction of their lives. Sentences can include community service, letters of apology, anti-theft or anti-drug classes, restitution, curfews, and jury duty, all to teach the offender a lesson.

 

Since its inception, the program has seen a 5.8 percent recidivism rate, which is the tendency for criminals to reoffend.

 

“[Offenders have] learned from this process and recognized that they don’t want to do this again and get themselves in trouble,” school police officer Scott Dean said, who serves as a bailiff for Youth Court.

 

Assistant State Attorney Andrew Carrabis has been volunteering for six years as a judge on Youth Court cases, overseeing the proceedings and providing feedback to the student attorneys, and has seen the program’s many benefits.

 

“[Youth Court prevents JFOs] from getting into that cycle that is so hard to get out of once you’re in,” Carrabis said in reference to the correctional system for minors. “Once you’re in the juvenile system, you’re on probation or conditional release until you’re at least 18 and constantly being monitored.”

 

Youth Court allowed students to learn about various aspects of the legal system. Students who served as jurors, clerks, and lawyers gain firsthand exposure to criminal justice proceedings.

 

Communications sophomore Lillian Khanna has served as a defense attorney in Youth Court and recently started the YCLS Club, serving as its co-president.

 

“I brought this club to Dreyfoos because a lot of jurors were there because of obligation,” Khanna said. “Bringing children who are genuinely law-interested to sit on the jury allows for more rehabilitative sanctions [for defendants].”

 

Her interest in law and sharing it with other students struck a chord with school counselor Laura Tomasello, who serves as the sponsor for YCLS and worked as a paralegal for nearly 15 years.

 

“I think it’s a good [opportunity] for students to see the legal system whether or not they want a career in it,” Ms. Tomasello said. “It’s a great process to understand.”

 

The real courtroom environment allowed for students to experience real-life legal situations and learn in depth about the legal process. Many of the teenage offenders are referred to Youth Court for misdemeanors, such as shoplifting, trespassing, or the possession of marijuana under 20g.  Student participation can prove to be a life-changing experience.

 

“Some of our participants over the years have actually gone onto law school and actually become attorneys because they enjoy their experience [at Youth Court],” Dean said.

 

Though not every participant pursues law, each student who experienced the system became educated on the matter.

 

“I’m proud of the students who venture out whether they want a career in law or not,” Ms. Tomasello said. “As these students are in there and participating in helping other students to do the right thing, they’re also reinforcing that they’re going to do the right thing.”

View Comments (2)
Donate to THE MUSE
$750
$10000
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists of Dreyfoos School of the Arts. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

Navigate Left
Navigate Right
About the Contributor
Sebastian Fernandez, Managing Editor
Sebastian Fernandez is a third-year staffer as well the digital managing editor for The Muse. Sebastian works hard to increase the digital footprint of the publication, further engaging the student body and reaching a wider audience. When he’s not working on Muse, Sebastian serves as President for SGA. Sebastian hopes that through his efforts as a journalist and student leader he can bring the Dreyfoos community together.  If you would like to contact this editor, you may reach them at [email protected]
Donate to THE MUSE
$750
$10000
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (2)

Posting under a pseudonym is not permitted. Online comments that are found in violation of the editorial policy will be removed as quickly as possible.
All THE MUSE Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • R

    random citizenNov 27, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    and also in the title, it’s defendant not defendent

     
    Reply
  • R

    random citizenNov 27, 2017 at 10:40 pm

    I noticed you have a typo within the last paragraph. “As students are in their” should be there, not their.

     
    Reply