In 1998, the Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office began a Juvenile Arbitration Program that now is available in all five counties. Juvenile arbitration is a juvenile diversion program designed to divert first time, non-violent/non-status offenders out of the Family Court system and into an informal arbitration setting that is operated by trained community volunteers.
The trained volunteers hold a hearing with the offender and his/her family as well as the victim and arresting police officer. At the hearing, the volunteer works to establish the facts of the case and to develop an appropriate punishment that is acceptable and in the best interest of all parties, including the community as a whole. Potential sanctions can include paying restitution, writing letters of apology, performing community service and other requirements the arbitrator deems appropriate.
If the juvenile is successful, the charges are dropped. If they are unsuccessful, the case will be forwarded to Family Court for prosecution.
We are thankful for approximately two dozen volunteers who make this program the success it is. Currently, fewer than 10 percent of the program’s participants re-offend.
For more information about this program or to volunteer, please contact Leonard Risher at 843-779-8689.