It's no stretch to say Brian Morrow has done more over the last decade to keep Michigan teens from lives of crime than anyone else in the state.
The deputy chief in the juvenile division of the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office since 2004, Morrow was instrumental in launching and expanding the county's teen court program, which empowers teens to serve as a jury for their peers in simple misdemeanor cases like shoplifting and minor in possession of alcohol. Unlike similar programs around the country, the Wayne County program is unique in that offenders face a jury of peers—other teens hear the facts of the case, question the offender and the juvenile's parent or guardian, and determine the appropriate punishment.
Morrow launched the teen court program in the 29th District Court in Wayne in 2006; it soon expanded to the 33rd and 34th districts. In 2010, Morrow collaborated with officials from Detroit Public Schools, Wayne State University, and Crime Stoppers to incorporate the program into two of the city's high schools. Today, the teen courts operate in four Detroit high schools—Denby, Central, Northwestern, and Martin Luther King.
The benefits of the teen court are many. In addition to giving juvenile offenders the potential opportunity to clear their records and have consequences decided by peers, the recidivism rate for teens who go through the program is lower than those adjudicated in formal juvenile court. It also serves as a learning opportunity for the teens on the jury, teaching them about the legal system and encouraging them to take a positive role in the community.
Kathleen Svoboda, a 3rd District juvenile court referee, said, "Brian . . . is committed to making his community a better place and to encouraging tomorrow's leaders to be integral, effective members of their communities today."
Morrow's work with the teen court earned him Wayne County's highest honor, the Anthony C. Wayne Award, in 2011, presented to an employee who has demonstrated exceptional leadership over a considerable period of time or responsible for implementing a project of major significance to the county.
Story by Mike Eidelbes