A Community Based Common Sense Approach to Determining Justice
What is the Community Juvenile Arbitration Program?
This unique restorative justice program gives priority to the restoration of the victim’s physical, material and emotional needs. The community juvenile arbitration program offers an innovative cost-effective method of dealing with juvenile crime that permits the community to take an active role in the justice system. Although victim participation is not a requirement, attendance at the hearing is strongly encouraged. Victims have the opportunity to present a first hand account of the incident and participate in the decision making process; leaving him or her with a feeling of satisfaction with the arbitration process.
The juvenile MUST attend with a parent/guardian, MUST admit guilt and has 90 days to complete the contract.
How does the program work?
The Department of Juvenile Justice makes a recommendation to arbitrate cases involving juveniles that have no prior record and have been charged with a non-violent crime.
The Solicitor’s Office reviews the nature of the charges and determines if the case qualifies for the program. Once a case is accepted, all parties involved are contacted and an Arbitrator is assigned to the case. A hearing date is usually set within 3 weeks.
The Hearing is conducted by a trained Arbitrator who will:
- Determine the facts of the case
- Assist the participants of the hearing to negotiate an agreement of sanctions to be met in order for the juvenile offender to complete restoration and clear his or her record.
- Monitor the juvenile’s progress toward completed assigned sanctions.
The program does not take a “cookie cutter” approach to justice. Sanctions are unique and tailored to the needs of everyone involved, from victim to offender.
Examples of sanctions that may be imposed:
- Restitution for damages up to $500
- Donations to charitable organizations
- Education classes, assignments or research
- Attendance at self-help groups or awareness programs
- Referrals to social service agencies for evaluations
- Jail tours
- Community Service
Citizen Volunteer Arbitrators are the heart of this program.
To become a Community Volunteer, please contact our office. Volunteers must be first approved by the court and then complete an extensive training program in Juvenile Criminal Justice, Criminal Law, Victimization, Communication Skills and Hearing Format.
These are the eligibility requirements that must be met:
- Must be 21 years old
- Have a valid South Carolina Driver’s License
- High School Diploma or equivalent
- No criminal record
- 21 hours of certification training
∙FOCUS ON THE JUVENILE∙
Juvenile accountability is achieved by focusing on losses to the victims and the community with the juvenile’s primary obligation to the victim and not the state.
Juvenile Arbitration is a restorative justice program that uses a back to basics approach, recognizing and supporting the community’s need to sanction crime and ensure public safety.
By removing the less serious cases and allowing the courts to concentrate on serious and violent crimes, Juvenile Arbitration promotes court efficiency and helps reduce the workload on Family Courts.
Juveniles who successfully complete the program can truthfully say that they have never been convicted of a crime.