Restorative Justice available for youthful offenders

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The Piñon Project is moving forward with programs geared to improve the quality of life in the community. One of the latest programs The Piñon Project has taken on is Juvenile Restorative Justice (RJ). RJ is used around the world and one of the best definitions of RJ comes from Tony Marshall with the British Home Office:“Restorative Justice is a process whereby all the parties with a stake in a particular offense come together to resolve collectively how to deal with the aftermath of the offense and its implications for the future.”

RJ does not replace the court system but is used mainly for minor offenses where the possibility of repairing the harm through a mutual agreement is high. Often it is used by the court as part of a plea agreement. One of the best uses of RJ is for situations in the schools where someone has been hurt or wronged but they (or their parents) do not want to involve the court system. It can be extremely helpful in a bullying situation.

The idea of a juvenile offender facing their victim and hearing how that victim was affected by the offense and having a chance to tell their side of the story is powerful. Ultimately it is the offender’s willingness to take responsibility for their actions and the development of a plan to repair the harm that makes the process a success.

This program is available for offenders from age 12-18. The Piñon Project invites all interested to discuss any possible incidents that might be a good fit for RJ with victims, parents, law enforcement or other interested parties. Several of the Project’s staff members have been trained to handle this mediation process. For more information, contact Dave Hart or Ellis Miller at 564-1195.