Volunteer Stories: Providing Juvenile Offenders with an Opportunity for Change

April 14, 2022

Twylen Hicks, associate fire marshal, Public Safety, read a brochure about the Juvenile Conference Committee while attending a training class at the Monmouth County Police Academy in 2001. Empowered by his passion for helping others, Twylen expressed his interest to the committee coordinator and began what is now over 20 years of volunteerism with the Juvenile Conference Committee in the City of Asbury Park, NJ.

By Vanessa Livingstone, Office of Human Resources

Twylen Hicks proudly displays his certificate of appreciation for his dedication and service to the Juvenile Conference Committee.
Twylen proudly displays his certificate of appreciation from The Superior Court of New Jersey for his many years of volunteer service.

After only one and a half years of service to the Juvenile Conference Committee (JCC) in Asbury Park, Twylen Hicks became chairperson of the citizen panel of court-appointed volunteers who hear and decide minor offenses — like shoplifting or criminal mischief — involving alleged juvenile offenders. The JCC invites the juvenile offender, their parent or guardian, and the complainant or victim to discuss an offense before recommending a resolution that would aid in the youth’s rehabilitation, such as community service or prevention programs.

My sincere hope is that we reach some of these young people and deter them from a life of crime.

As chair, Twylen maintains the committee’s decorum — meaning he leads introductions to the youth offenders and their parents or guardians, reviews and reads complaints aloud, and opens the floor for Q&A. Twylen also holds the position of secretary and currently serves in both roles.

When hearing juveniles’ offenses, Twylen’s goal is to instill an understanding of how their decisions can impact the rest of their lives, whether it’s exclusion from the federal student loan program or ineligibility for certain careers. Each youth receives one opportunity to appear before the committee, so every interaction counts.

Twylen’s fondest moments are opportunities to showcase JCC participants in a positive light. For example, during one of their meetings, the JCC discovered that a young girl sang opera. She was invited to perform at the annual volunteer dinner and impressed the audience with her talent. Throughout his 20 years of volunteer service, Twylen truly appreciates the chance to highlight positive outcomes.

“This, to me, is one of the things that I am most passionate about…as long as I’m able to, I will continue to volunteer and hope that I can inspire these young people to one day volunteer their time to do for others what was done for them.”

For more information or to become a volunteer, visit New Jersey Courts.

Photos courtesy of Twylen Hicks.

Feedback? Questions? Suggestions for future stories on staff who volunteer with outside organizations? Please write to the HR Communications Team.