Constitutional Rights Foundation of Orange County

Summer Peer Court

14th of September 2016

During the months of June, July and August, CRF-OC held three Peer Court sessions at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. Over 300 Orange County middle and high school students increased their knowledge about the American criminal justice system by acting as jurors in real-life juvenile proceedings while interacting directly with judges and attorneys. These three sessions involved 7 separate juvenile cases ranging from vandalism to shoplifting to marijuana possession. The common theme of these sessions was the pursuit of rehabilitation rather than retribution. Students serving on each jury questioned the offending minor about why they committed the crime. They used the information to help determine the sanctions they thought would help improve the lives of the minor and their family.

After the sessions, students reflected on their experience. One student commented that Peer Court had “enlightened [their] understanding of the consequences of [their] actions” and that they now realize their “actions do not just affect [only themselves], it affects many of the people around [them].” Many students expressed they had learned important lessons about the judicial system, as well as the value of reformative discipline as opposed to strictly punitive measures.

Please contact CRF-OC ahead of time if you are interested in attending any future Peer Court sessions.