Juvenile Restorative Justice Program

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WHAT IS RESTORATIVE JUSTICE?

Restorative justice is an approach to justice that focuses on the needs of the victims and the offenders as well as the involved community. It identifies the harm done, how harm can be repaired and who is responsible. This contrasts to more punitive approaches where the main aim is to punish the offender or satisfy the letter of the law. The 4 R's of restorative justice are: Repair, Restore, Reconcile, and Re-Integrate.

  • In our current system, an offense is defined as a violation against the state. In RJ, an offense is defined as harm that is done to a person and/or the community.
  • In our current system, the focus is on establishing blame, stigmatizing shame and guilt. In RJ, the focus is on problem solving, communitarian/re-integration and how to repair the harm.
  • In our current system, the victim is largely ignored. In RJ, the victim's rights and needs are fully recognized.
  • In our current system, accountability equals punishment. In RJ, accountability equals empathy and helping to repair harm.
  • In our current system, we rely on outside professionals to mitigate justice. RJ relies on the direct involvement of those who have been affected.

WHAT DOES THE RJ PROCESS LOOK LIKE?

The following guidelines are followed in the DPD/YCRC Juvenile Restorative Process

  • Officers either arrest (juvenile citation) or make a written referral (non-arrest) to DPD Youth Services.
  • Each juvenile case is referred to DPD Youth Intervention Specialist for review. Cases are then referred to either DPD/YCRC RJ to process; referred to the Davis PD in-house Juvenile Diversion Program; or referred to Yolo County Probation if the juvenile is a multiple offender and/or if the crime is too serious in nature to handle informally.
  • If the juvenile arrest qualifies for diversion or RJ process, the YIS notifies families and schedules a preliminary meeting to explain the two choices for disposition of the juvenile's arrest. Both processes are completely voluntary. If the juvenile and parent request formal proceedings, the case is then forwarded to juvenile court. A collective decision is then made regarding the best choice for the juvenile, family and community.
  • If RJ is chosen, parents and juveniles sign release of confidentiality as all juvenile information is strictly confidential. The case is then referred to the YCRC case manager who contacts families and takes the case from pre-conference to final conference with agreements documented.
  • Case is returned to DPD and YIS follows up with families on agreements to ensure they are fulfilled. Case is closed when all agreements are satisfied.

WHO PARTICIPATES?

Participants typically are the victim, offender, parents/guardian of both and any support people the victim and offender identify and request to attend the conference. YCRC utilizes trained community volunteers to facilitate the conference. Police and other law enforcement personnel are not present during the conference unless they are a victim in case (i.e., assault on police officer, resisting arrest, etc.)

WHAT TYPES OF CRIMES ARE HANDLED THROUGH RJ?

Most misdemeanor and low level offenses are appropriate for diversion and/or RJ. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Shoplifting
  • Minor in possession of alcohol
  • Public intoxication
  • Possession of marijuana
  • Battery
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Crimes including social media; creating fake Facebook/Instagram accounts, hacking email, cyber bullying, sexting.

Cases more serious in nature are handled through Yolo County Juvenile Probation and/or Yolo County District Attorney's office.

WHY DOES IT WORK?

Research shows communities who reintegrate rather than stigmatize offenders have the lowest recidivism rates. Historically, we punish, fine, reprimand, incarcerate, detain, suspend, and expel but pay little to no attention to repairing the real harm done to the victim and community. Restorative practice strategies such as conferencing allow offenders to make amends, repair the harm, apologize, gain acceptance and be reintegrated into the community.