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Kansas City youth court aims to keep children out of justice system, promote future law careers

The students are mentored by lawyers and law students, they learn about the justice system and even take their own bar exam.
Published: May. 16, 2022 at 10:04 AM CDT|Updated: May. 16, 2022 at 10:13 AM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - In youth court, the kids are the defense attorneys, prosecutors and judges. They’re the defendants, too. While it’s a learning experience, the program also gives second chances.

“They adjudicate cases of other juveniles charged with first-time minor criminal offenses. It’s a great program because it gives the children, the juveniles, an opportunity to make a mistake and not have them followed their entire life by a record,” said Judge Martina Peterson.

Some of the minor offenses brought to youth court can be like stealing, trespassing and drug possession.

The child would be summoned to youth court by the Kansas City Police Department. The court is held at the UMKC School of Law.

The case is tried and if the child is found guilty, they’re sentenced.

Their punishment could include anything from community service to an apology essay. If the young defendant stays out of trouble before age 17, the offense won’t be on their record.

Youth court also opens up opportunities for kids to embark on a career in law.

The students are mentored by lawyers and law students. They learn about the justice system and even take their own bar exam.

Youth court will celebrate their grads on May 16 at 6 p.m. on the campus of UMKC, but they will also be preparing for a new round of participants. You can find more information on the youth court program here.