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Balanced and Restorative Justice for Juveniles: A Framework for Juvenile Justice in the 21st Century

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 1997
70 pages
This paper describes how jurisdictions are balancing competency development, accountability, and public safety goals in an effort to restore victims, communities, and juvenile offenders as well as rebuild broken relationships.
The debate over the future of the juvenile court and the juvenile justice system has been between proponents of a retributive philosophy and advocates of the traditional individual treatment mission. Both punitive approaches and those focused solely on treatment have failed to satisfy basic needs of crime victims, the community, and offenders themselves. Neither offers hope for preserving a separate justice system for juveniles. This document outlines an alternative philosophy, restorative justice, and a new mission, the balanced approach, which require that juvenile justice systems be attentive to making amends to victims and the community, increasing offender competencies, and protecting the public, through processes in which offenders, victims, and the community are all active participants. A Balanced and Restorative Justice model provides a framework for systemic reform and offers hope for preserving and revitalizing the juvenile justice system. Implementing this new approach involves developing a new mission and goals for juvenile justice; reallocating resources; redesigning job descriptions; developing new reporting measures and data-collection systems to monitor effectiveness; giving priority to new programs and practices; and developing new roles for victims, citizens, and offenders in the justice process. Implementation must begin with consensus-building among key stakeholders and testing with small pilot projects to develop the model. This evolutionary process can build on existing programs and practices such as victim- offender mediation, community service and restitution, and work experience, as well as other competency-development interventions that help to achieve sanctioning, rehabilitative, and public safety objectives. 7 tables, 10 notes, and 63 references

Date Published: August 1, 1997