Restorative Justice Conferences originated as a response to juvenile crime. Conferencing is a victim-sensitive approach to addressing wrongdoing in various settings in a variety of ways.
A Restorative Justice Conference is a structured meeting between victims, offenders, their family and friends. It meets the three goals of balanced and restorative justice (BARJ) by providing benefits in the areas of accountability, competency development and community safety.
As a diversion program, it provides:
A comprehensive and swift response to juvenile crime
A structured meeting between victims, offenders, juvenile probation, law enforcement and community
A way to hold offenders accountable through a court diversion agreement
Advantages to the program include:
Offender accountability without formal criminal charges
Juvenile Court Service Unit-monitored agreement
Practical Applications of the Program
The program can be used in a variety of ways:
Juvenile Probation Officers may respond to various probation violations with conferences.
Schools may use it in response to truancy, disciplinary incidents, including violence, or as a prevention strategy in the form of role-plays of conferences with primary and elementary school students.
Police can use conferences as a warning or diversion from court, especially with first-time offenders.
Courts may use conferencing as a diversion, an alternative sentencing process, or a healing event for victims and offenders after the court process is concluded.
For more information, contact Lance F. Kelley, Court Diversion / Restorative Justice Specialist, at 703-771-5568.