Faculty and students join local judge to develop Youth Court
Bothell, WA – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traffic accidents are the number one killer of teens. A program from the City of Bothell and the University of Washington Bothell is aimed at slowing that trend. Now, teen traffic violators have the option to take their cases to the Bothell Youth Court which launches for the first time on January 28th. Led by Municipal Court Judge Michelle Gehlsen, the program trains teens to adjudicate real cases of 16 and 17 year olds with violations ranging from texting while driving to negligent driving. It also allows the defendant to make amends by completing a project that is tailored to the driver’s talent or interests. Once completed, the defendant’s driving record is expunged and fines are eliminated.
Gehlsen says her experience on the bench inspired her to initiate the Bothell Youth Court, “I was immediately troubled with the little time I had with youth traffic violators during heavy adult dockets. I wanted time to discuss with them the repercussions of their dangerous behavior and ways to change it.”
She recruited UW Bothell professor Camille Walsh, who says the opportunity for combining restorative justice and mentoring appealed to her. “One of best things about having UW Bothell and the city partner on this project is the scaffolded mentoring. Attorneys and judges mentor our students who, in turn, lead trainings for the high school students who then lead the court and individually mentor the defendants.” The Youth Court includes a jury of the defendants’ peers, as well as an entire court run by peers, including judge, prosecutor, defense attorney and bailiff. “This kind of mentoring fits perfectly with the restorative justice model because it fosters a sense of community among all the participants and involves everyone in the process” says Walsh
Gehlsen says youth court benefits the entire community, “I am excited about this program because by empowering teens, youth courts have proven to be a powerful restorative justice model that encourages creativity and prepares teens for the future.” She added, “The court also fosters community interests in safety, efficiency and civic engagement. And, most importantly, it will save lives by educating teens about the dangers of driving.”
Bothell Youth Court Launch – Celebration & Mock Trial
When: Monday, January 28,2013, 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
Where: University of Washington Bothell
North Creek Events Center
18115 Campus Way NE
Bothell, WA 98011
Bothell Youth Court – 2 hearings scheduled
When: Monday, February 11,2013, 5:30 p.m.
Where: Bothell Municipal Court
10116 NE 83rd St., Bothell, WA 98011
About UW Bothell: With more than 30 degrees, options, certificates and concentrations, the college curriculum emphasizes close student-faculty interaction, interaction and critical thinking. UW Bothell prepares students for leadership in the state of Washington and beyond. For more information, visit www.uwb.edu.