About the Juvenile Diversion Program
The Merrimack County Juvenile Diversion Program is an early intervention program that works with first time juvenile offenders. It is a voluntary alternative to the criminal justice system for young people who have committed a crime or violation of the law.
Youth can be referred to the Diversion Program through court order, police, parents or schools for any of the services we offer. When referred as a first time juvenile offender the ultimate outcome for successful participation in the program is that they will have no criminal record if they complete contractual obligations.
The Diversion Program offers two valuable alternatives to the traditional criminal justice system; 1) Teen Court; 2) Community Accountability Board (CAB). Both the Teen Court Program and CAB utilize a restorative justice approach to rehabilitation. This approach allows juveniles to focus on repairing the damage caused to the victims(s), community, family and self.
The CAB process involves an intake appointment with offending youth and his or her parents or guardians. This is followed by a Community Accountability Board meeting in which the youth meets with adult volunteers and is assigned a contract of items that may include; community service, apology letters, research assignments, educational classes, etc. and are appropriate consequences to the offense that was committed. If the youth completes all contract items within the timeline given they have successfully completed the diversion process and will not have a juvenile criminal record.
The Teen Court Program was started in 2001. In this program, under adult guidance, young people participate in a sentencing hearing, administered by their peers. The Teen Court Program utilizes both adult and teen volunteers from the Merrimack County community. The sentencing hearings are overseen by a Judge and the courtroom is comprised of volunteer jury members, teen attorneys and adult mentors. The program meets a Merrimack County's Probate Court on two Tuesday's per month, typically from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Teen Court is always looking for new volunteers ages 13-18 from Merrimack County. Teens are able to earn community service hours for their participation in the program. The roles that teens are able to fill in the court room are jury members and prosecuting or defense attorneys. Adults can also volunteer for this program by sitting on the Teen Court Advisory Board or by mentoring teen attorneys.