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Best Practice Guidelines for Crime Victim Participation in Community Justice Panels Within Pennsylvania's Juvenile Justice System

NCJ Number
Valerie Bender
Date Published
10 pages
This booklet presents guidelines for Pennsylvania communities in the development and operation of Community Justice Panels (CJP's), which use well-trained community volunteers in constructing a program for repairing the harm caused by juvenile offenders in cases of a summary or misdemeanor offense (occasionally a nonviolent felony offense); CJP's constitute an alternative to traditional juvenile justice processing.
Although specific processes of CJP's may vary from neighborhood to neighborhood, several factors are constant. All panels use the services of well-trained community volunteers. A panel meets with a juvenile who has admitted committing an eligible offense. Guided by the mission of the juvenile justice system, panels coordinate the participation of all parties -- victim, offender, and community -- in defining the harm caused by the crime, addressing how the harm can be repaired, and providing support/assistance to offenders as they fulfill their responsibility to repair the harm done to the victims and the community. After providing a brief history of CJP's in Pennsylvania, this booklet outlines the tasks of the CJP sponsor in preparing and supporting the victim for inclusion in the CJP process. The benefits of the CJP for victims are listed as follows: immediate action following referral; less time-consuming than traditional court hearings; greater voice for the victim; timely restitution collection; community supervision; immediate consequences for the juvenile offender; and a more personal resolution of the harm caused. Sample forms for use in CJP procedures are provided, and a case example is described.