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“The Dane County TimeBank’s Youth Court Program provides a positive alternative to the juvenile justice system so youth can willingly take responsibility for their actions, make amends and build healthy and productive relationships. We work with law enforcement, schools, and neighborhood groups. Youth in the program contribute to a safer, more caring community. Our Youth Courts work with middle and high school aged youth who have made a mistake. Instead of receiving a ticket, they may participate in youth court, where their case is heard by a jury of other youth. The peer jury generally requires youth to take part in activities that can help them succeed in the long run, such as: writing letters of apology to victims or other restorative justice activities, mentoring, skill building, educational opportunities, goal setting activities, and more. When youth’s agreement components are complete they have the option to continue their service, earning TimeBank Hours. The TimeBank currently runs youth courts in all 4 of Madison’s High Schools, Verona High School, and 2 community locations. The TimeBank has been running youth courts since 2006 and has held close to 300 youth court sessions with more than 750 youth having the opportunity to go through youth court rather than the formal system. Approximately 90% of youth successfully fulfill their agreements and avoid formal charges. We have trained more than 750 youth as jurors and members have contributed thousands of hours. The Dane County TimeBank was formed in 2005. From the beginning we were interested in setting up a youth court. We saw far too many young people being arrested and getting funneled into the formal system. We wanted to support youth in the community while holding them accountable for their actions. We believed through community and timebank engagement they would increase their connection to their community, gain skills and supports, and learn from their mistakes.” - Lorrie Hurckes Dwyer @ Dane County TimeBank, Wisconsin . #timebankingis #community #50storiesin50days #timebanks #story #timeasmoney #youthcourt
Reflection by Edgar Cahn
TimeBanking does more than make exchanges possible. Racism is a pervasive phenomenon in juvenile justice systems. TimeBanking values people the market does not value: youth. It values work that the market does not value: creating a peer culture that honors contribution and a passion for justice. In this youth court, timebanking enables youth who get into trouble to redefine themselves as community assets. It can compete with gangs as a source of respect and support. And as one youth court juror explained: “I learned that my actions have consequences.” These youth are more than jurors; they are social architects, restructuring the justice system and dismantling the school to prison pipeline. This currency can shape new institutions and enable them to become sustainable. According to the Preamble to the Constitution, this nation was formed to “establish justice.” Establishing justice is not a spectator sport.