On Feb. 2 the ninth group of area middle- and high-school students participated in a youth leadership training program to prepare them to serve in the Athens Peer court as lawyers, judge and jury in sentencing hearings for youth who have been arrested. Emily Boness, a faculty member at the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, trained youth volunteers in leadership skills, public speaking and restorative justice to promote behavioral change and reduce recidivism. Approximately 20 students participated in the training; currently there are more than 30 active youth volunteers in Athens Peer Court.

Athens Peer Court is an innovation in juvenile justice developed by the J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development and local juvenile justice units in Athens-Clarke County.