Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice

Restorative juvenile justice practices use support from family members and the community to discuss the effects of what transpired on the victim, family, and/or community, in order to actively create steps towards repairing the harm that occured.  In addition to reacting to delinquent behavior, a proactive goal of Restorative Justice is to improve community involement in the prevention of juvenile crime by improving neighborhoods and strengthening bonds between community members.

Specifically for the juvenile offender, it is hoped that through Restorative Justice practices they will be able to understand the impact of their behavior and accept responsibility for their actions.  In addition,  family and community members can help the youth express remorse and take action to repair damage, this can aide the youth in becoming a valued member of the community.  

A Victim Youth Conference (VYC) is one example of a Restorative Justice Practice.  A VYC is a dialogue between a youth, victim (or victim surrogate), family and other support persons who come together during a joint conference to discuss how the crime affected each of them.  This allows the victim to express themselves to the youth, and the youth to understand the full impact of their decision. 

In 2015 the Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR) initiated a pilot VYC project involving The Mediation Center, Mediation West, and Concord Mediation Center funded by the Sherwood Project.  ODR partnered with Dr. Mark Umbreit and his team at the University of Minnesota's Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking to integrate evidence-based practices into victim youth conferencing at the three pilot centers.  The project had three main priorities:

  1. Youth involved with VYC will increase their awareness of wrong doing, their sense of acountability, and create reparations to the victim.
  2. Victims invloved with VYC will increase their satisfaction and confidence with the justice system.
  3. Evaluation completed externally by the UMN team to assess impacts on the juvenile, victim, and the community.