Jefferson Award

April 2020 - Darius Parakh

Darius earned the Jefferson Award for his work within juvenile justice programs, specifically his three-year involvement with Santa Clara County’s Peer Court, a restorative justice program focusing on guiding students away from the typical juvenile justice pipeline. Darius joined the peer court because of his passion for youth advocacy, and used this passion to drastically change and expand the program, ensuring it would be able to reach many more students. Throughout his three years, Darius’ main goal has been to strengthen the principle of restorative justice in both the peer court and in the general community. Darius has greatly contributed to the peer court through his work as a defense advocate for students, as well as through his various leadership roles in the program. As a defense advocate, Darius served on 15-20 cases, arguing a large range of crimes, ranging from petty to much more significant. As a leader, he served as the Head of Policy and Procedure, in which he wrote the policies for a county level program. He was also elected to and has served as the Head of Peer Court’s Advisory Board for the past year, where he spearheads discussions regarding new ways of intervention and analyzing outcomes. One of the ways he has left a lasting impact on the court is through playing a major role in the creation of a data outcome survey. This survey has allowed Darius and other volunteers to tailor the program more toward the needs of its youth, which has led to a triple in their cases per year. His intimate, personable work with youth as well as his constant focus in the field of law has led to his creation of a large, lasting impact on juvenile justice and a resumé worthy of recognition.