Student Volunteers Sworn-In to Cobb County Juvenile Peer Court
Marietta, GA | The Judiciary of Cobb County Juvenile Court held a swearing-in ceremony Tuesday for 63 student volunteers of the Cobb County Juvenile Peer Court, an alternative system of justice made up of high school students from the Cobb County School District, Marietta City School District, private schools and home school programs.
Peer Court offers first-time juvenile offenders between the ages of 12 and 17 an opportunity to admit responsibility for their offenses and receive constructive sentencing from their peers. Student volunteers serve as Prosecuting and Defense Attorneys, Jurors, Bailiffs, and Court Clerk. The only adult in the court process is the judge, whose role is to oversee the court proceedings. Peer volunteers do not determine the guilt or innocence of juvenile offenders, rather they recommend a constructive sentence for the juvenile defendant, such as restitution, community service hours, and/or counseling. Any student in 8th through 12th grade is eligible to participate.
"Volunteers who participate in Peer Court benefit by learning about the judicial system, gaining self-confidence, acquiring critical thinking skills, and developing relationships with the other participants," said Judge Kareem West. "Our program is important, because it fosters a positive relationship between youth and the judicial system. Both the volunteers and the parties in the cases gain a better understanding of their rights, justice, and the law. They are also empowered to make better decisions in their daily lives."
A juvenile referred to Peer Court appears before a jury of peers and is, in turn, defended and prosecuted by those peers. Constructive sentencing with Peer Court includes principles of Restorative Justice and educational sessions designed to prevent future delinquent acts.
All student volunteers attend Peer Court Law School, where they will learn typical court procedures, and receive peer court training with assistance from both local attorneys and courthouse personnel.
This is the third year of the program, which has sworn in 150 volunteers from all over Cobb County.
Peer volunteers can receive community service credit for their hours and submit their service hours to school for credit as allowable.
Jessica Glicker | Cobb County Communications | [email protected]