Foundation Grants $1,000 to Youth Court


Big check to Youth Court

Carolyn Miller, second from left, president of the Allegany County Area Foundation, presented a grant of $1,000 to Allegany County Youth Court before a recent session, held in the chambers of the county legislature. Jessica Jennings, second from right, coordinator of the Youth Court, accepted the check, along with Youth Court members Samantha Nichols, at right, and Nathaniel LaCelle-Peterson, at left.

BELMONT,N.Y.,NOVEMBER 22, 2011—The Allegany County Area Foundation made a grant of $1,000 to Allegany County Youth Court prior to its regular session last Thursday. Carolyn Miller, president of the Foundation, presented a check to Jessica Jennings, coordinator of the Youth Court.

            “We have such a small budget, something like this makes a big difference,” said Ms. Jennings, “Generosity like this allows the Youth Court to keep functioning.”

            “We are pleased that the Foundation can have a role in support of such an important system,” said Ms. Miller, who worked as clerk ofAlleganyCounty’s support court for many years before retiring.

            The Youth Court provides an alternative to the juvenile court system for young people ages 7-18. “The goal is restorative justice,” Ms. Jennings said, explaining that the court passes out sentences such as community service, apology letters and essays to offenders. If they meet the requirements of their sentence, their cases are dismissed.

            Area police, the county probation department and town and village justices send cases to the Youth Court. Offenders must plead guilty and the Youth Court then decides their punishment.

            Another unique aspect of the court is that young people themselves fill the positions of prosecutor, defense attorney, judge and jury. “We have 46 members right now, 14 of them newly sworn in this week,” said Ms. Jennings. Not all are able to attend each session, she noted.

            The grant from the ACAF will help provide training materials to new members. Each of them must undergo 20 hours of training as well as observe the court in action.

            “It’s heartening that people in the county continue to support the Foundation, even during these difficult economic times,” said Ms. Miller, “Their generosity allows us to provide grants such as these to nonprofit organizations throughout the county.”

            The ACAF is preparing for a year-end campaign to enlist “Friends of the Foundation” in its activities for the upcoming year.