Why Restorative Justice?

Our Mission Statement:

“Empowering our youth through Restorative Justice for a brighter future.”

   Restorative Justice provides an opportunity for those most affected by a crime (i.e., the victims, the community, and the offender) to be directly involved in the justice process. It is not an easy process.  The offender must accept responsibility for his/her actions and the harm those actions caused others; as well as take action to repair that harm.

Teen Court mediations, peer panels and trials offer different avenues to the Restorative Justice process.  Through these avenues, the community and the offender come together to identify and resolve the issues that brought the teen to court.  This may involve various Teen Court classes for shoplifters, troubled teens or life skills.  These classes have been developed by Teen Court to help teens develop resources to make positive life choices in the future.  Community service and Teen Court Jury Duty help the defendants feel a part of the larger community again, and gain confidence in knowing they can make a difference in someone’s life.

   Decisions made in Teen Court are upheld by the Municipal Court system. Once Teen Court sentencing requirements are fully met by the defendant, the charges filed against them are dismissed. Unless they commit a second offense, former defendants’ records can be expunged one year from their Municipal Court review date.  This enables teens to apply for jobs, college, the military and financial aid without the stigma of a criminal record.

   Through a Restorative Justice approach, teens recognize the impact of their actions and are provided with a chance to grow from the experience. Recidivism rates for our program average 7%, as opposed to 40-50% for similar cases in the regular court system. 

Debbie English discusses Restorative Justice with Rachel Stovall: