Thursday, August 22, 2013
Bill Henderson, a former Connecticut state trooper with 20 years of law enforcement experience has recently joined the ranks of the Mount Pleasant Police Department as youth court administrator. Henderson is stationed out of the School Resource Office at Wando High School and oversees all aspects of the Youth Court program.
The Youth Court program is a voluntary diversion program that serves as an alternative to the traditional justice system. First-time juvenile offenders of misdemeanor crimes may have their cases heard in the Youth Court.
“Restorative justice is about holding young people accountable for their actions by increasing their understanding of the harm they have caused and by giving them opportunities to repair that harm,” said Henderson. “The Youth Court program is unique in that it is a student-run court comprised of trained students who serve in the roles of judges, defense attorneys, prosecutors, clerks of court and bailiff. Involving young people in the outcome and disposition of those cases promote community safety.”
The student volunteers, who are between 12 and 18 years old, receive initial training from members of the South Carolina Bar Association. They must pass an examination prior to becoming a staff member. Youth Court staff volunteers must attend annual in-service training and pass an annual examination to continue with the Youth Court.
The Youth Court handles offenses committed within the Town of Mount Pleasant by offenders under the age of 17. Parents/guardians must consent to the case being handled in Youth Court, and the juvenile must have no prior criminal offenses according to the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice. The offense must be a misdemeanor and may not be a drug or alcohol violation. The offense may not be a status offense, including truancy, incorrigibility and runaway. If restitution is being sought, it must not exceed $500 per offense.
“Court sentencing can include community service, letters of apology, research essays, restitution and a tour of the Charleston County Juvenile Detention Center,” said Henderson. “Our goal is to increase the skills and competencies of the young offenders so that they can become productive members of our community.”
Henderson who is the parent of three daughters, one attending Cario Middle School and two attending Wando High School, is in a unique position to relate to and provide the help and support needed to local teenagers.
Youth Court program additional support
School Resource Officer Michael Reidenbach, stationed at Wando High School, will support the Youth Court Program and help Henderson. Reidenbach has been assisting the Youth Court program since 2009 and recently served as youth court administrator for the past two and a half years. Reidenbach first became involved in the Youth Court program in 1995 as an eighth grader at Laing Middle School. Reidenbach served as a judge during his junior and senior years. He graduated from Wando High School in 2000.
For more information on the Youth Court Program, call 843-849-2791 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.