Our mission is to provide youth with an opportunity for accountability and competency development while promoting safety in the community.
Adams County Diversion has been providing services for many years to first time offending youth and young adults who are referred by the County Attorney. Diversion presently has additional contracts with Clay, Fillmore, Nuckolls and Webster Counties and has been providing Diversion Services in those outlying areas as well. We offer life skills assessments and behavioral risk assessments to all Diversion and Teen Court referrals in Adams County as well as to Diversion referrals from the other counties. The assessment service is also being used by STARS (truancy program through Hastings Public Schools), by the youth at the Maryland Living Center in Hastings and by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
Teen Court is an extension of the traditional Diversion Service in Adams County. To be considered for Diversion or Teen Court, the youth must admit guilt and be willing to proceed with the consequences of their actions. Referral for both of these programs comes from the Adams County Attorney’s office. First time offenders may be offered participation in Teen Court and second time offenders may be offered participation in an enhanced Diversion, unless their offenses are violent or rise to the level of a felony.
Teen Court is based on the Restorative Justice Model which seeks to redirect a youth’s behavior and attitude toward positive changes while emphasizing the need for the youth to repair the harm their behavior caused to themselves, their victim and community. Youthful offenders, called Respondents, admit their guilt and come before a jury of their peers who listen to information about the offense. The youth jury deliberates and then issues fair and appropriate sanctions for the respondent youth. Within this model, the jury, the attorneys and the bailiff are all volunteer teen peers and the judge is a volunteer adult. Additional adult volunteers are used to help maintain order in the courtroom process and young adult mentors are used to provide direction and support for the youth. All volunteers complete training. Confidentiality is strongly emphasized and an Oath of Confidentiality is signed by all volunteers.
In addition to the benefits for the youthful offender, Teen Court peer volunteers also gain from this experience by learning about the legal process, gaining an appreciation of civic duty and learn leadership and public speaking skills.
Providing youth with an opportunity for accountability and competency development while promoting safety in the community.
This project is supported by subgrant number 16-CB-0522 awarded by the Nebraska Crime Commission and points of view or opinions contained in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the Nebraska Crime Commission or the Community-based Juvenile Services Aid Program.