A King County mediation program has been put in place to help Seattle teens stay out of jail. In the program, the teen accused of wrongdoing must face the person who has been harmed. A peer mediator works with all parties involved and helps to decide the fate of the wrongdoer.
According to Jerell Coleman, a 16 year old involved in the program, mediation helped him stay out of trouble. He was arrested in 2016 for breaking into a business. He could have been sent to jail for his crime. He and his group of friends caused approximately $50,000 worth of damage.
Coleman admits he was weak-minded at the time and was hanging out with troublemakers. Despite his parents’ attempt to steer him in the right direction, he made a mistake. The good news was the prosecutor of his case considered him an ideal candidate for the Alternative Dispute Resolution program. His stepfather was told that participation in the program could reduce Coleman’s charges, so as a family, they agreed to do it.
Coleman was surprised that the process is overseen by a youth mediator.
But now, after experiencing the success of the program personally, he is participating and working as a mediator.
The program was created by a mediator who has been working with King County for some time. It is the first of its kind and has been part of the judicial system for three years now. Approximately one case per month is settled through the program. It began with cases related to petty theft, but now has helped to determine the outcome in more severe cases.