Juvenile Healing to Wellness Court Spotlight: Intertribal Court of Southern California

By Jacob Metoxen, Training and Technical Assistance Specialist, Tribal Youth Resource Center

The Intertribal Court of Southern California (ICSC) began operating in 2006 and currently functions as a circuit court to 18 Federally Recognized Tribes. In 2018, ICSC introduced a Youth Court in coordination with Purpose Area 8 funding that focuses on alternative justice. These efforts have resulted in a creative approach to case resolution and educational opportunities for area high school students.

In November 2020, ICSC hosted a mock hearing for a restorative justice model which involves close collaboration with the American Indian Recruitment (AIR) Programs; the University of California, San Diego; and San Diego State University. The model offers college-level training to high school students grades 10 to 12 in the subject matter of tribal legal studies. Knowledge gained by the students is then applied in the ICSC Youth Court where participants act as peer decision makers to resolve cases concerning youth. Justice involved youth who are accepted into the Youth Court must also serve as a peer decision maker before graduating from the program.

Despite COVID-19 limitations, ICSC was able to host the mock hearing outdoors where participants exceeded expectations. The event gave ICSC hope that the model will be effective once it is fully implemented. ICSC staff are currently working to get students both high school and college credits for their participation in the training.

It’s exciting to see a creative model for alternative justice being applied in Indian Country and we’re eager to see the positive impact ICSC brings to the youth of the region. For more information on the ICSC Tribal Youth Court please visit www.sciljc.org/youth-court or contact Coordinator Shane Craddock at scraddock@sciljc.org.

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