The Juvenile Arbitration Program is a process that includes a trained citizen volunteer, the juvenile offender and his/her parents or guardian, the crime victim, and the arresting officer. The juvenile’s participation is voluntary and requires an admission of facts and guilt. After determining the facts of the case, the arbitrator decides the appropriate actions the juvenile must take to restore justice to his/her victim(s).
- VOLUNTEERS: The success of the Juvenile Arbitration Program depends on community participation and volunteerism. The volunteer arbitrators come from all walks of life, and are the heart and soul of the program. Each volunteer must be screened by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the South Carolina Department of Transportation, and the South Carolina Department of Social Services. They must also be approved by the Solicitor’s Office, be trained for 21 hours through one of 14 participating solicitor’s offices, receive 9 hours of follow-up training for each consecutive year of service, be a high school graduate and be at least 21 years of age.
- PARTICIPATION: The juvenile offender must complete the actions determined by the arbitrator which may include, but are not limited to, making monetary restitution, performing community service, making a charitable donation, attending educational programs, participating in counselling, writing topical essays, apologizing to victim(s), attending substance abuse seminars, visiting correctional institutions, or making other appropriate field trips, and participating in victim impact classes.
- COMPLETION: Successful completion of the arbitration program enables the juvenile to make amends for his or her crime and avoid formal prosecution in Family Court. If the juvenile fails to complete the program successfully, he or she is referred to Family Court for prosecution. The Juvenile Arbitration Program does not accept violent offenders, previous diversion program participants, truants, or other status offenders.