Restorative Community Conferencing Program PR

COMMUNITY WORKS RECEIVES FEDERAL TITLE II BLOCK GRANT FOR OAKLAND RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PROGRAM A model diversion program to keep hundreds of youth out of the Alameda County juvenile justice system November 16, 2011 – Berkeley, CA – Community Works is thrilled to announce that it is one of fifteen organizations to receive a three-year Federal Title II Block Grant from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The grant, which totals $1.05 million, will fund implementation and evaluation of a restorative justice initiative in Oakland, CA, that aims to divert at least 95 juveniles per year from the juvenile justice system and support them to make significant changes in their behavior, attitude and choices. The program will use restorative justice methods to reduce the number of young people, particularly youth of color, who receive a juvenile record and repair the harm caused by juvenile offending.A collaboration between Community Works and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, the Restorative Community Conferencing Program is a radical new model for addressing juvenile offenses. Community Conferences (CCs) engage victims, offenders, families and community members in a collaborative process that repairs harm, addresses root causes, allows youth to make amends, and reduces disproportionate minority contact. “Community Conferencing offers a way to interrupt the spiral of over-incarceration, rising costs, racial disparities, and unfavorable outcomes for victims, offenders, and communities. While CCs have been used in smaller communities, this is the first restorative justice diversion program to address more serious youth crimes in a major urban area,” says Ruth Morgan, Executive Director of Community Works. The program will be offered to Oakland youth who are arrested for felonies and high-level misdemeanors in lieu of prosecution and incarceration. To participate, the young person must meet face-to-face with his/her victims and family members and other supporters on both sides. A plan by which the young person does right by his/her victim, family, community, and self is developed by consensus of all participants. When the offender completes the plan, the case is closed without charges being filed. This program is the culmination of Sujatha Baliga’s 2008 Soros Fellowship, and will commence January 2012.