Juvenile Arbitration is a community-based mediation/arbitration program that, upon successful completion, offers first-time, non-violent juvenile offenders an opportunity to avoid formal prosecution of a charged offense. The program uses trained volunteers, known as arbitrators, to conduct an informal hearing in the community between the law enforcement officer, the victim(s), and the juvenile offender. These arbitrators act as mentors to many of the juvenile offenders by offering direction, guidance, and sanctions in their lives. The outcome of the hearing is a restorative justice approach, which gives the juvenile offender the opportunity to repay the victim, accept responsibility, and repair the harm done to the community through the use of "tailor made" sanctions, which may include restitution, community service, and educational activities. Educational activities may include life skills classes, anger management classes, Ropes Challenge courses, alcohol and drug counseling, mental health counseling, jail information programs, DJJ tours, topical essays, apology letters, and other appropriate sanctions. The program promotes offender accountability while engaging the victims throughout the arbitration process.
To learn more about becoming a volunteer or setting up a community work site, contact the Lexington County Juvenile Arbitration Office.