Mark Walsh's Story

Author: Mark Walsh
Mark Walsh's Story

Police Constable Mark Walsh’s Fellowship investigated the US youth criminal justice system.

The Fellowship

Police Constable Mark Walsh travelled to New York City and Los Angeles to learn about an alternative criminal justice program known as Peer Courts. Also known as Teen and Youth Courts, Peer Courts are hearings in which young people who commit a first minor offence are judged and given a non-custodial sentence by a jury of their peers. Mark wanted to see if this model could be adapted for the UK to help divert young people from the criminal justice system. On his return, he put a proposal to the Crime Commissioner for Hampshire, who gave his backing for a pilot operation in the county: ‘Hampshire Community Court’

The Results

The pilot has supported almost 200 young offenders, their families and any victims of their crime, and has shown encouraging results including low re-offending rates. Mark has been involved in presentations to both the Secretary of State for Justice and the Chair of the Youth Justice Board, and plans are now underway to establish more Peer Court programmes within Hampshire as well as in other parts of the UK.

Read more Fellows' Stories in Prison & Justice Reform