What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice is a process that focuses on rehabilitating offenders through reconciliation with victims and their community. Restorative Justice seeks to repair harm by giving victims the chance to share how they have been harmed, and by allowing offenders to take accountability for their actions and repair the harm caused by crime.
Why is Restorative Justice Important?
Youth offenders who are detained are five times more likely to be detained for future criminal behaviors. However, 86% of the youth who complete the Restorative Justice process do not re-offend. Restorative Justice allows the offender to re-integrate into a community and can help reduce the dangers of perceived stigmas. This process also allows the victim to have a say in how they feel the offender could best repair the damage done to the community.
Services that YouthZone Provides
YouthZone uses a Restorative Conference, where the offender and their supporters, the victim and their supporters, a volunteer community member, law enforcement officers, and two trained facilitators meet face-to-face. The offender explains their story, and the other members of the conference explain the effects that the offender’s actions had on them. This process paves the way for a contract which is designed to meet the needs of each party involved.
YouthZone also provides Community Building Circles. Circles bring together individuals who would like to engage in community building, conflict resolution, and relationship building. Circles foster cooperation and strengthen connections within the group.
YouthZone provides support in the implementation of Restorative Practices in schools. This entails training for staff and assistance in building an RJ process based on the needs of the individual community
YouthZone has been facilitating Restorative Justice Conferences for youth ages 10-20 years old since 1999. When kids come to YouthZone, they receive an-in-depth evaluation that identifies risk factors and connects the youth and family with the services they need. Restorative Justice is just one of the services that a youth can be referred to. In order to reach more of the community, we urge you to volunteer or donate today.
The History of Restorative Justice
As legend goes, it all started around Bud and Sharlene Collett’s kitchen table in Rifle in 1976. YouthZone began as Let’s Work it Out and later became Garfield Youth Services followed by its present name of YouthZone .
In 1993, Garfield Youth Services offered a program called “Victim-Offender Mediation.” The program looked a little different than it does today. Instead of a circle, two mediators were seated across the table from the youth. The program’s focus was on repairing harm through restitution. The group found that victim involvement led to restoration and the program evolved into Restorative Justice, headed by Barb Lorah.
Some of the original volunteers included Marion Smith, Jan Kaufman, and Eddi Vanderhoof. Barb and Bill Lorah, Alec Raffin, Jean Heyser, Patty Phelps, Lisa Franke, and Debbie Wilde acted as facilitators.
Barb remembers one of the early circles that had a big impact on the youth offender. A 12-year-old boy who loved art. To repair the harm, he wanted to paint miniature pictures and use them as prizes at Sunnyside Retirement Center’s weekly Bingo game. He enjoyed helping run the games and awarding prizes so much that he continued to paint pictures and volunteer for a few years after his two-month obligation was fulfilled.
Thanks to all the hard work of the many past employees and volunteers, Restorative Justice has become an important program at YouthZone that helps kids, families, and victims in our communities.
How can I be involved?
To become a volunteer community member, surrogate victim or facilitator,please contact YouthZone's Restorative Justice Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
How can I make a referral?
To make a referral to YouthZone’s Restorative Justice Program,please contact Jennifer Hawks at email@example.com.