April, 2021

Queens Defenders is pleased to announce that it has received a $16,000 grant for the Joseph LeRoy and Ann C. Warner Fund to expand our innovative Youth Justice Court program to the St. John’s Home for Boys in Rockaway Park, a Close to Home program for young men in foster care placements.

Queens Defenders’ Youth Justice Court program is a restorative justice-based diversion program that allows young offenders to have their case heard by peers instead of in Criminal Court. The program operates in nine locations throughout the borough and trains high school students to serve as attorneys, judges, and other roles to administer cases.

“The Joseph LeRoy and Ann C. Warner Fund (The Warner Fund) team is a lifelong advocate of restorative justice programs. That is why we are proud to sponsor the Youth Justice Court Program at St. John’s Home for Boys located in Rockaway, NY. The Warner Fund is confident that with grants like this, Queens Defenders will continue its success in creating and expanding innovative and lifesaving programming to serve adolescents and young adults that are involved in the criminal justice system.”

– Joseph R. Madonia, LCSW-R, CASAC, Executive Director, The Joseph LeRoy and Ann C. Warner Fund

Due to the residential nature of St. John’s and the unique challenges the young men who reside there face, The Youth Justice Court program will hear low-level offenses referred by participating police precincts in addition to resolving issues that arise within the residence itself. In addition, participants will learn about the court process, how to protect their rights and safely interact with the police, and they will be trained in various court roles, including serving as attorneys and prosecutors, judges, and members of the jury.

Historically, more than 80 percent of referred Youth Justice Court cases are resolved successfully. Of those cases, 80 percent have no further involvement with the authorities/police within a year.

“This grant from the Warner Fund will provide the young men residing at St. John’s with an alternative option to resolve conflicts within the residence and allows young men who commit infractions in the community to have their case heard by a court of their peers instead of in Criminal Court. In addition to the restorative-justice based approach to low level crime, participating youth will learn skills, discover possible career pathways, and build confidence in themselves and their abilities.”

– Brandon Jeffries, Director of Youth Services, Queens Defenders