Youth Arbitration Program


First Year of Operation results: 93% success rate (more information)

Download application to become a volunteer

The Youth Arbitration Program is a community-based program that provides fast track accountability for first-time youthful offenders charged with committing a nonviolent crime. These youths are diverted from the formal justice system to an arbitration conference conducted in or near their communities.  Trained volunteer arbitrators conduct the conferences and monitor the youths’ progress throughout the program, which is authorized to operate by Solicitor’s Offices in all 16 judicial circuits in South Carolina. A Richland County Deputy Sheriff coordinates the program. 


The three goals of the Arbitration Program are:


  • To hold young offenders accountable for their actions and for the harm they cause to their victims and communities.

  • To increase the competency and learning of young offenders so they can become productive, law abiding citizens.

  • To ensure public safety by strengthening a community’s capacity to prevent and control crime.


The Arbitration Program is an excellent example of balanced and restorative justice. Volunteers from the communities in which the youths and victims live are the lifeblood of the program. The citizen volunteers guide the development of common-sense solutions to divert at-risk youths from the justice system.


Participants in the arbitration process include a trained citizen volunteer, the youthful offender and his or her parent(s)/guardian, the crime victim, and the arresting officer. The youth’s participation is voluntary and requires an admission of facts or guilt. After determining the facts of the case, the arbitrator works with all participants to establish agreeable and appropriate sanctions for the youth to complete, ensuring that he or she repairs the harm caused to his or her victim(s) and community and learns from the experience. 


These actions may include:
  • Paying monetary restitution

  • Performing a community service

  • Making a charitable donation

  • Attending educational programs

  • Participating in counseling

  • Writing topical essays

  • Apologizing to the victim(s)

  • Attending substance abuse programs

  • Participating in victim impact panels

  • Visiting correctional institutions or making other appropriate field trips


Successful completion of the Arbitration Program enables the youth to make amends for his or her actions and avoid formal prosecution in court.  If the youth does not successfully complete the program, he or she is referred to court for prosecution.


The Arbitration Program does not accept violent offenders, previous diversion program participants, or truants and other status offenders.




The success of the program depends on community participation and volunteerism. The school volunteer conferencing facilitators come from all walks of life.  Each volunteer:

  • is screened by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the South Carolina Department of Social Services.

  • is approved by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

  • receives 24 hours of required training. The volunteer must also receive 9 hours of follow-up training for each consecutive year of service.

  • is at least 21 years old and a high school graduate.


Aligning community volunteers with the Sheriff’s Department, school personnel, Solicitor’s Office, and DJJ will build partnerships and harness resources that have a positive impact on entire school communities, reduce disruptive behavior, repair the harm caused by school crime, and promote a safe learning environment.

Cpl. Hensley Parks
(803) 576-1465


For more information, contact Youth Arbitration Director, Cpl. Hensley Parks at (803) 576-1465 or

Download our brochure

Download application to become a volunteer

Youth Arbitration Referral Form

Youth Arbitration Photo gallery

Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

is a response to crime that allows for active participation of victim, offender, and community in the justice process. It is a values framework which recognizes that justice is be achieved by building, or rebuilding, relationships between crime victims, community, and offenders.


Crime Weakens Relationships


BARJ Restores Relationships



5623 Two Notch Road 
Columbia, South Carolina 29223 
(803) 576-3000 phone (803) 576-3195 fax

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