Criminal Justice Youth Institute
Spartanburg County Criminal Justice Youth Institute
Spartanburg County Criminal Justice Youth Institute

In 2017, the Spartanburg County Clerk of Court partnered with The Spartanburg County Foundation to launch the Spartanburg County Criminal Justice Youth Institute as a response to tragedies across the country involving officers and the criminal justice system.

This four-month leadership training program is designed to introduce Spartanburg County 11th-12th graders to the criminal justice system to help them gain a deeper understanding of the inner-workings of the system, eliminate misconceptions, build long-lasting partnerships between youth and criminal justice officials, and empower Spartanburg County youth to become positive contributors and leaders in our community.

The Institute begins in January with an opening retreat that provides an opportunity for participants to connect with one another in an informal setting and hear from an inspirational leader. Sessions are held January through April, one weekday per month, from 8:30am to 12:30pm. A graduation ceremony is held in May.

Modeled after The Spartanburg County Foundation’s Grassroots Leadership Development Institute, participants of the Spartanburg County Criminal Justice Youth Institute are equipped with resources and a better understanding of the Criminal Justice System, enabling them to:

  • Understand their rights as individuals, as well as the consequences of poor decision-making;
  • Be a resource for other youth who have questions about the inner-workings of the criminal justice system;
  • Share their knowledge with others about the importance of making positive choices;
  • Help dispel any misconceptions;
  • Form long-lasting relationships and partnerships with criminal justice officials;
  • Further explore a career within the criminal justice system; and
  • Assume individual and collective responsibility for positive change in their communities.

The Spartanburg County Criminal Justice Youth Institute provides leadership training, education, and an opportunity to connect with other youth who are interested in making a positive difference in their communities. Throughout this leadership training, participants meet once a month for four months to increase their knowledge of the criminal justice system and gain a better understanding of the role they can play in partnering together with criminal justice officials, as well as the consequences of poor decision-making.

Topic sessions include: arrest, booking, hearings, pre-trial intervention, sentencing, probation, drug abuse, and legal aid. Participants will also gain exposure to state and federal delegation.

The sessions will be held at various locations throughout Spartanburg County, such as the Spartanburg County Courthouse, Spartanburg County Jail, Spartanburg City Hall, and Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office, providing students an opportunity to tour these facilities first-hand.

Participation is open to any 11th or 12th grader that attends a Spartanburg County public, private, or home school. Thirty-five students, including representatives from each of the seven Spartanburg County School Districts will be selected to participate. Participants come from diverse cultures and backgrounds with a desire to learn more about the Criminal Justice System and be a leader in his or her community.

Students will be selected to participate based on the following criteria:

Education

Must be a high school junior or senior attending a Spartanburg County public, private, or home school

Interest

Must have an interest in learning more about the criminal justice system

Willingness

Must be willing to commit to help build long-lasting partnerships with criminal justice officials and be an advocate for making positive choices

Desire

Must have a desire to positively change their communities

Personal Benefit

Would benefit from learning more about the criminal justice system, as well as the consequences of poor choices

Commitment

Must be committed to attending the opening retreat, all sessions, and the graduation ceremony

Variety

Academic merits and school involvement should not be a determining factor; rather, the Institute hopes to engage students of varying involvements, backgrounds, socioeconomic levels, and academic achievements

APPLY

The Spartanburg County Criminal Justice Youth Institute is now accepting applications for its 2019 class.  Please submit your application and two letters of recommendation to The Spartanburg County Foundation by 5:00 p.m., Wednesday, October 31, 2018.

For questions, please contact Valerie Sullivan, Project Manager, at (864) 680.5630 or vbsullivan12@gmail.com.

ALUMNI

Each year, 12th grade Institute graduates will have the opportunity to apply for a summer internship. This allows those individuals who are interested in exploring a possible career in criminal justice to gain first-hand experience working alongside leaders in this field. Additionally, 11th grade Institute graduates will have an opportunity to be elected by their class to serve on the Institute’s advisory committee as a youth advisor.

More Information

For more information about the Spartanburg County Criminal Justice Youth Institute, please contact Valerie Sullivan, project coordinator, at vbsullivan12@gmail.com.