Juvenile Justice the Restorative Way
When an offense is committed, police reports are sent to the County Attorney’s office. If the County Attorney determines that a case is appropriate for Restorative Justice, dependent upon level of offense and if this is a first time offense, s/he forwards the police reports detailing the incident and appropriate information on the case to the Restorative Justice Council. Trained volunteers then facilitate the case. Letters inform the victim(s) and offender(s) that a facilitator will set up an appointment for a pre-conference to explain the process and options available.
The facilitators set up separate Pre-Conference meetings for the offender(s) and for the victim(s) to listen to each version of what happened the day of the offense, and the experiences of all involved in the situation. If both agree to work with Restorative Justice to repair the harm done, a Conference meeting will then be set up. This meeting includes both offender(s) and victim(s). If they choose not to participate in the restorative justice process, the offender then will face a judge in County Court.
The goal of the Pre-Conference and the Conference meetings is to help the offender understand the harm s/he caused to the victim and/or the community. This is done through calm reasoning and sharing of values such as the Golden Rule. During the Conference, the aim is to create an agreement between victim and offender on how to repair the harm done, i.e. such as a letter of apology, community work service, etc.
The purpose of Restorative Justice is to restore not only harm to property but to restore the relationships between offenders, victims, and other community members through proper understanding and acceptance of responsibility for actions, words and attitudes.