The Lancaster County Youth Aid Panel (YAP) is a diversionary program for youth under the supervision of the District Attorney's Office. YAP is an alternative method for addressing juvenile criminal actions. The panel exists to assist the Juvenile and District courts and is used a s a response to first-time summary and misdemeanor offenses. The panel is not a court of law and does not determine guilt or innocence. The offense is reviewed and resolved by a specially designed community panel, the young offender and his/her parents or guardians, Because due process protection is a high priority, the youth or his/her guardians may choose to dismiss themselves from the program and enter the juvenile court system at any time.
The panel is made up of concerned citizens of various backgrounds who volunteer their time. In order to participate, they receive 15 hours of mandatory training on criminal justice topics such as police interaction with youth, interview and counseling techniques and the impact of addictions. Generally, panels meet once a month for approximately 3-4 hours to hear cases of referred youth. Youth are referred to the program by police departments after an offense has occurred.
As a young person progresses toward adulthood, they may make poor decisions that result in police interaction. The YAP program affords them the opportunity to discuss this with individuals from their own community in order to clearly define mutual understanding, expectations and concern.