Eastern Jackson County Peer Diversion Court
In The EJC Youth Court's Own Words
The high rates of juveniles involved in criminal activities in Jackson County create an increased risk factor associated with drug abuse and violent behaviors for teens. The Eastern Jackson County Youth Court exists to hold juvenile offenders accountable for delinquent behavior, to provide positive peer-led restorative justice which promotes leadership and positive youth behavior, to increase juvenile offenders knowledge and enhance refusal skills to avoid criminal behavior including the use of drugs and violent acts, and to reduce repeated criminal behavior and involvement in the criminal justice system.
The Eastern Jackson County Youth Court (EJCYC) is a juvenile prevention peer court, which provides immediate sanctions for juvenile offenders.
The court meets the requirement of an evidence-based program as a model based on the Independence Youth Court, which has been recognized nationally by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) as a promising juvenile prevention program. The Eastern Jackson County Youth Court was established in 1989 and is the third oldest continuously operating peer court in Missouri.
EJCYC is also one of the 25 oldest known continuously operating youth diversion courts in the United States. The National Association of Youth Courts and Global Youth Justice organizations recognize the value of Youth/Peer courts as successful prevention diversion programs which promote restorative justice as an alternative to the traditional juvenile justice system.
Trained Youth Court Student Volunteers
Peer Court adjudication hearings are conducted monthly by trained youth court student volunteers (ages 13 to 18), with adult volunteers, and under supervision of an adult Municipal Court Judge. The criminal cases for juveniles ages 7 to 17—which will legally change to age 18 in Missouri in January 2021—are referred to Youth Court by seven police jurisdictions:
- City of Buckner
- City of Grain Valley
- City of Greenwood
- City of Oak Grove
- City of Sugar Creek
- Blue Springs School District Public Safety Department
- Jackson County Sheriff's Office.
These municipal/county ordinance violation cases include both status offenses (beyond parental control, curfew, runaway and truancy) and delinquent offenses (possession of alcohol, drugs, paraphernalia, tobacco/vape, assault, disorderly conduct, false information, harassment, possession of stolen property, property damage, shoplifting, minor traffic violations, trespassing and vandalism).
Following National Youth Court Guidelines
All court sanctions follow the National Youth Court Guidelines for restorative justice and prevention education. Victims of crimes such as assault, disorderly conduct, harassment, property damage, theft and vandalism are given the opportunity to present victim impact statements to the court prior to the adjudication of the juvenile offender.
The sentences in Youth Court require the juvenile to participate in community service to show accountability for their actions and to attend educational classes which provides knowledge and life skills to reduce the future potential for delinquent behaviors such as drug use, violent activities, and involvement in the criminal justice system.
The Youth Court follows the COMBAT prevention objectives to promote activities which will reduce the risk of juveniles' use of alcohol and drugs, and violent activities which cause involvement in the criminal justice system. The juveniles referred to Youth Court have exhibited risky and delinquent behaviors which are the first step in patterns of drug abuse and violence. The restorative justice peer intervention provided by Youth Court along with the court sanctions of educational classes and community service allows at risk juveniles to participate in positive peer relationships, learn positive social behaviors, and learn resistance skills to refuse drugs, and avoid violence and criminal activities in the future.
The EJC is a juvenile prevention peer court, which provides immediate sanctions for juvenile offenders. The court meets the requirements of an evidence-based program and has been recognized nationally by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and Global Youth Justice as an accepted promising juvenile prevention program as a mirror image of the Independence Youth Court progam. EJC was established in 1989 and is the third oldest continuously operating peer court in Missouri and is one of the oldest youth diversion courts in the United States.
The National Association of Youth Courts and Global Youth Justice organizations recognize the value of Youth/Peer Courts as successful prevention diversions promoting restorative justice for youth and as an alternative to the traditional juvenile justice system.
Peer Court adjudication is conducted monthly by trained youth volunteers (ages 13 to 19), under adult supervision, in the Grain Valley Municipal Courtroom. The criminal cases for juveniles 7 to 17 (target population) are referred to EJY Youth Court by seven agencies: the Blue Springs Public Safety Department; the Buckner, Grain Valley, Greenwood, Oak Grove and Sugar Creek Police Departments; and the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.
The municipal and/or county ordinance violation cases include both delinquent offenses (such as alcohol possession, assault, disorderly conduct, drugs, stealing and vandalism) and status offenses (such as beyond parental control, curfew and truancy). All court sanctions follow the National Youth Court Guidelines for restorative justice and prevention education. Victims of crimes are given the opportunity to provide a victim impact statement to the court prior to court adjudication and sentence.
The court sanctions at Youth Court require the juveniles to participate in community service at ongoing times and locations all year at non-profit organizations in Jackson County (such as Community Service League and the Dia bled Veterans) to show accountability for their actions. The juvenile offenders must also attend one or more of the monthly or bi-monthly educational programs provided by EJC (in collaboration with Independence Youth Court), which include Advanced Alcohol and Drug Intervention; Anger Management 1; Anger Management 2 and Decision Making; Fire Prevention; Safe Streets and Crime Prevention; Shoplifting Diversion; Tobacco/Vape Resistance; Truancy Prevention; and the new 2019 Community Arts and Life Skills (in collaboration with Ezekiel's Project).
COMBAT Funding: $62,795.00
COMBAT funds other violence prevention programs—more than 40—offered by a variety of agencies thorughout Jackson County. These programs have been broken down into these sub-categories to assist you in finding services that meet your specific needs
» Bully Prevention
» Child Abuse
» Counseling Services
» Diversion Programs
» Domestic Violence
» Job Training Programs
» Legal Services
» Parenting Programs
» Re-entry Programs
» School Attendance/Truancy
» Sexual Assault Programs
» Victim Support Services
» Youth-Orient Programs