Anchorage Youth Court

An Effective Practice


Anchorage Youth Court (AYC) was established in 1989 as a nonprofit organization and operates today in partnership with the Alaska Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Juvenile Justice. The youth court accepts 400 to 500 referrals a year from the juvenile court. The AYC generally handles first-time, minor property offenses and other misdemeanors, although it may accept some youths with prior arrests for minor offenses. Cases excluded from eligibility include serious drug and alcohol offenses as well as cases involving youths with gang affiliations, severe psychological and emotional issues, or prior violent offenses.

Youths may volunteer for AYC beginning in seventh grade. All volunteers involved in the Anchorage Youth Bar Association (YBA) must complete an 8-week training course and pass a youth bar exam to gain admittance. Only YBA members may serve as attorneys or judges in the YBA. Finally, unlike most teen courts, defendants in the AYC have the option of pleading “not guilty.” When a youth makes a “not guilty” plea, the youth court spends considerable time and resources to schedule and staff an adjudication hearing. The youth attorneys can spend several days interviewing witnesses and investigating the facts of the case. The arresting officer and other witnesses may be called to testify.

Goal / Mission

Anchorage Youth Court gives youth offenders personal accountability; youth attorneys good training and the opportunity to make a significant difference in others' lives; and the public an effective and comprehensive public safety system.

Results / Accomplishments

AYC was part of the Evaluation of Teen Courts (ETC) project. The ETC project used a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the impact of four diverse teen courts in four different States. The findings of the ETC project suggest that teen courts are a promising alternative for the juvenile justice system. In AYC, the results indicate that youths referred to teen court were significantly less likely to be re-referred to the juvenile justice system for a new offense within 6 months of their initial offense. Only 6 percent of AYC youths recidivated, compared with 23 percent of control-group youth.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Sharon Leon
Anchorage Youth Court
P.O. Box 102735
Anchorage, AK 99510
(907) 274-5986
Public Safety / Corrections
Education / Vocational & Adult Education
Anchorage Youth Court
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention's Model Programs Guide (MPG)
Date of publication
Geographic Type
Anchorage, AK
For more details
Target Audience

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