This brief explains how juvenile justice stakeholders can support the “restorative justice” model of juvenile justice, which is more responsive to youth needs that underly their lawbreaking behavior than the traditional punitive treatment of juvenile offenders.
The benefits of restorative justice are first reviewed. When implemented to address the needs and underlying causes of the offending behavior, restorative justice both holds offenders accountable for the harms their behaviors have caused and exposes them to treatment that addresses the needs and attitudes underlying their criminal behavior, while promoting responsible, self-fulfilling behavior. The intended result of restorative justice programming is “reduced trauma associated with juvenile justice system involvement and strengthened interpersonal relationships.” Benefits to the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems are a reduction in repeat offending and the cost of large-scale jail and prison use. The discussion of ways to support restorative justice programming focus on the incorporation of a trauma-informed approach in justice processing, the establishment of eligibility criteria to reduce disparities in diversion to restorative justice processing, and collaboration with community-based organizations qualified to deliver trauma-informed programming.