Serve Your Community as a Youth Court Advocate
Queens Public Library, in partnership with Queens Defenders, offers Youth Justice Courts (YJC) for young people, ages 13-19. The goal of the YJC program is to provide an alternative response to youth crime in the community. Youth who commit low-level crimes are referred to YJC by local precincts, where they are represented by young people just like you. By joining YJC, you will learn about the foundations of the criminal justice system and become trained to serve as peer defense attorneys, prosecutors, and jurors. You will have a say in how your peers can be held accountable in a fair and dignified way. This program is only for young people, ages 13-19.
Why should I become a Youth Court Advocate?
- Serve MyCommunity
As an advocate, you will help other teens avoid school suspensions, criminal and family court appearances, and potential violations of probation.
- Build My Resume
Becoming an advocate will teach you valuable skills and provide experiences that you can add to your resume for colleges and job opportunities.
- Have Fun
YJC isn’t just about work – there will be plenty of activities that are entertaining and will provide opportunities to connect with your peers (think: games, debates, and more)!
The Youth Justice Court program runs throughout each school year, except on library holidays. Participants can join at any time! For the 2023-2024 school year, classes will begin during the first week of October.
YJC is currently available in-person only at the locations listed below. For more information or to ask questions, please contact your preferred location using the contact details below.
"In 2015, I enrolled in the Queens Defenders Youth Justice Court program at the Far Rockaway Teens Library when I was 15. YJC trains young people to take on the responsibilities of each courtroom participant -- judge, jury member, defender, prosecutor. Teenagers who commit misdemeanors learn to understand the consequences of their actions through YJC hearings and redeem themselves through different restorative justice avenues.
I was hooked on the first day! About seven years later, I have graduated from Queensborough Community College with an associate’s degree in criminal justice. Presently I am concluding my senior year at John Jay College where I major in criminal justice and double minor in sociology and law. I work full-time at Queens Defenders, delivering the YJC program myself in two Queens Library branches, and a residency/school for boys. Lastly, I have created the Queens Defenders: BLANK Project. The BLANK Project focuses on Building Leaders and Activists in a New Kulture. Members of the BLANK Project learn about the law, organize rallies, marches, and fight for social justice. Our team is committed to standing with and fighting for marginalized groups in our country. The goal is to raise our voices to bring awareness to systemic racism."
– Alexandra Brathwaite, Social Justice Coordinator, Queens Defenders
"Youth Court is an amazing program for youth to experience the field of law. I had fun learning from the lawyers at Queens Defenders and debating with my peers. We participated in real life trials helping our community and other teens using restorative justice."
– Brandon March