HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. —
This month, Hofstra Law School will begin hosting the weekly hearings of the Nassau County Youth Court. The youth court, which is a program of the Nassau County District Attorney’s office, allows adolescents to adjudicate low-level criminal offenses committed by their peers.
Last year, Hofstra Law students Stefan Campagna and Rob Castillo worked with the DA’s office to train a class of volunteers from Hempstead and Uniondale high schools to take part in the youth court program, which held its first session last March.
“We are committed to the Nassau County Youth Court program and are pleased that we can deepen our support of its activities by hosting weekly hearings here at Hofstra Law,” said Dean Nora V. Demleitner. “The youth court program provides enrichment opportunities not only for our law students, but also for the high school students who will regularly be brought to our campus for training and the hearings, thereby broadening their exposure to the opportunities available to them in higher education and the law.”
All the leadership positions in youth courts — including attorneys, juries, bailiffs and clerks — are filled by high school students. Under direction from the DA’s office, Hofstra Law students will continue to train volunteers to fill these necessary roles. Youth court respondents are referred to the system from the Nassau County Probation Department Juvenile Intake.
“The Nassau County Youth Court provides a rewarding opportunity for law students to gain valuable experience in an innovative criminal justice program,” said Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen M. Rice. “Community partnerships are critical to the success of this program and I am grateful to the administration, faculty, and students of Hofstra Law School for their invaluable support.
Each year, approximately 125,000 youth appear before youth courts in more than 1,000 community-based programs nationwide. As part of the youth court program, offenders who appear before the courts must agree to the peer-decided sentence, which typically involves restorative justice, such as community service.