Youth Court Locations
Oneida County Youth Court aims to initiate, develop and maintain courts throughout the county. Currently, Oneida County Youth Court operates four regional youth courts with hopes of expanding.
Camden Youth Court
Need: The Village of Camden saw a major jump in crime from 2003 to 2004. Some of the more alarming statistics were a 33% increase in property crimes, a 38% increase in burglary and 31% increase in larceny. We see a definite need for a youth court program in that community, especially as many of these offenses involve youth. Juvenile Delinquency has been a major issue in the Camden area. This concern led to the collaboration of the Camden School District, faith-based community and Oneida County Youth Bureau in an effort to curb delinquency and provide after-school programs. Camden Youth Court remains an effective alternative for many juvenile crimes and is strongly endorsed by the police department, elected officials, school district and town justices.
News: Camden’s Class of 2005 included several dedicated Youth Court members. Hence, the Director spent much of July/August contacting school officials regarding potential student volunteers. The Director secured a commitment from three committed Camden students to undergo training. Thus far, they have excelled in our youth court training in Rome. Training includes over 25 hours of speakers and mock trials, ensuring our volunteers know the ins and outs of the criminal justice system and can properly function within a courtroom atmosphere. Several of our volunteers joined us for the 2005 Rome Honor America Days Parade on July 30, as we marched to publicize Oneida County Youth Court. On July 14th, we heard two more cases, before delaying any more summer cases due to graduation and vacation (both leading to fewer volunteers). To date, we have heard 13 cases, dispensing 274 hours of community service, 21 jury sentences, 9 letters of apology, 6 jail tours and 1 mediation.
Rome Youth Court
Need: Rome accounted for nearly 182 J.D. or PINS filings in 2003. The Rome Police Department tried for years to institute a youth court in the community. It was Oneida County Youth Court, working with police, city and school officials, that accomplished this task. Initial reluctance was overcome by massive support from Rome citizens and public officials. Mayor James Brown, Police Chief Otto Panara and County Legislator Patty Hudak remain vocal supporters of the program.
News: July/August was another productive period for Rome Youth Court. After losing several volunteers to graduation, expanding our base of student volunteers was crucial. The Director worked with school and advisory board officials to target interested students for summer training. Our first day of training, August 8, yielded more than 40 volunteers. Our numbers eventually tapered off, due to the level of commitment required (over 25 hours of speakers and mock trials), but this is still our largest training class. Prior to the commencement of training (August), we heard four more cases in July. To date, nine cases have been heard, generating 172 hour of community service, 15 jury sentences, 13 letters of apology, 1 essay, three jail tours and 1 mediation.
Utica Youth Court
- Proctor High School Academy D Principal Richard Ambruso approached Oneida County Youth Court as a means of addressing overwhelming delinquency at Proctor.
- Vandalism and truancy were the primary issues mentioned, which youth court has subsequently focused its cases upon.
- Superintendent Dan Lowengard was one of the first supporters of the program and ordered that it move forward as rapidly as possible.
News: Throughout July/August, Utica Youth Court saw decent progress. Coupled with our training in Rome, Utica held its own summer training sessions for volunteers. Approximately 15 students attended the first day of training, some new students and some that had already sat as jurors but not trained. Several students could not maintain the rigorous demands of over 25 hours of speakers and mock trials, but there remains a wonderful group of committed volunteers for our Utica court. As school was out of session, no cases were heard, although new referrals remained a priority as the school year loomed. Also, Several of our volunteers bravely joined us for the 2005 Rome Honor America Days Parade on July 30, as we marched in 90+ heat to publicize Oneida County Youth Court.
Waterville Youth Court
- County Legislator Ed Stephenson approached the director about the need for a program in Waterville to focus on overlooked rural issues of delinquency of his constituency.
- Local guidance counselor Lisa Crabtree and Sheriff's Deputy Nancy Nichol seconded the need and offered perspective regarding issues plaguing the community and school's youth population such as parties and truancy.
News: The Director devoted much of July and August to training volunteers from across the county. Unfortunately, no Waterville volunteers attended the training sessions. However, the Director plans to work with several Sauquoit/Waterville students in small group settings in hopes of getting a few students trained to serve as judge, prosecution and defense (this in addition to the several we have already trained). The advisory board met on August 23. The Director is currently focusing on broadening the numbers and is always open to suggestions and recommendations regarding youth and adult volunteers as well as referrals. The Director also ensured the previous case was fulfilled, as the offender completed mediation, community service at the Waterville Historical Society as well as an essay.