Restorative Peer Court
A conventional youth court & an alternative restorative justice process
The above video includes testimonials from actual peer court participants in Barron County WI.
In Peer Court, some courtroom formalities remain; however, we focus on the restorative building blocks of ownership, empathy and reparation in every conversation.
We believe that this hybrid model is an ideal setting for high-school age students to learn about justice issues. It invites them to think deeply about the real nature of justice and how decisions are determined. At all sessions an adult judge is present, volunteering his or her time to moderate the proceedings.
“My favorite part of Peer Court was that it was a chance for my daughter to fix what happened.” – Parent of a respondent
The mission of Restorative Peer Court is to help youth offenders restore their relationships with the community through alternative methods of handling minor juvenile offenses (such as theft, disorderly conduct, damage to property, etc.). Central to this process is the opportunity for youth to learn how their actions have affected other people, so that they gain relationship-based motivations for making better choices in the future. A peer jury helps to determine a set of restorative guideline sanctions that are geared to give something back to the community and to foster positive responsibility.
Peer Court is based on the philosophy that a youth offender does not continue to be an offender when he or she is able to understand the harms caused and to repair relationships with the community. Peer Court is designed to interrupt patterns of criminal behavior by promoting positive empathy toward others, motivating self-improvement, and developing a healthy attitude toward laws and boundaries within the community. It provides a way for first-time offenders to focus on personal development and keep their records clean. At the same time, respondents who choose to come back as ongoing volunteers find an opportunity to help other youth who are dealing with similar life issues.
If you would like more information regarding the Restorative Peer Court Program, please email Chris Jackson, Restorative Peer Court Supervisor at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (541) 344-5366.
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