Restorative Community Conferences
A second chance restorative justice program for youth
Restorative justice is a largely unknown and underutilized approach, despite the fact that it offers a way to interrupt the spiral of over-incarceration, rising costs, racial disparities, and unfavorable outcomes for victims, offenders, and communities. However, the federal government has recently launched a three-year pilot initiative to test the efficacy of restorative justice as a way to address youth crime. CW is one of fifteen organizations to receive such funding (through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation/Corrections Standards Authority), specifically to implement and evaluate the approach of community conferencing. While community conferencing has been used in smaller communities, this is ta scaled up restorative justice diversion program to address more serious youth crimes in a major urban area. At least 100 youth will be served annually.
WHAT WE DO
A new collaboration between Community Works and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, Restorative Community Conferences (RCC) aims to divert at least 95 juveniles per year from the juvenile justice system and support them to make significant changes in their behavior and life choices. The program engages victims, offenders, families and community members in a collaborative process called community conferencing that repairs harm, addresses root causes, allows youth to make amends, and reduces disproportionate minority contact. The program is offered to Oakland youth who are arrested for felonies and high-level misdemeanors in lieu of prosecution and incarceration.
Selected young people meet face-to-face with their victims, 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.