Case Studies That Demonstrate Change Toward a Balanced and Restorative Justice Model
In many ways, the demonstration efforts of the BARJ Project discussed below have shown that a great deal of time is needed to implement change as complex as that prescribed by restorative justice values. Given the expectations for each site, there is room for disappointment at how slow progress has been in completing basic steps of action plans. Although significant change has occurred in awareness of the values and goals of restorative justice, even this awareness seems thin once outside the circle of senior management and those assigned to special units and programs. There are new programs and small examples of responses to cases that encompass all principles of restorative justice. However, on a given day, it might be difficult for a visitor to observe what is new and different about implementation of the BARJ Model.
Part of what is new is the enthusiasm about the possibilities of a new type of juvenile justice intervention and revitalized thinking that views increased victim and community involvement as a needed shot in the arm. As a site coordinator in one jurisdiction put it, "There is more, and less, here than meets the eye." There is, for example, great excitement about plans for the future about BARJ initiatives. Conversely, there is less than meets the eye in that many of the most innovative efforts are in the earliest stages of implementation, or only being talked about. The critical observer would note, for example, that a list of new programs and policies does not necessarily characterize the way most crime victims, offenders, and citizens are treated by the system at the present time. However, there is also more than meets the eye in that practitioners in individual probation units and special programs are developing innovative, restorative programs that often go undocumented and unrecognized.
It is impossible, in this document, to adequately summarize the experience of these jurisdictions in implementing restorative justice. The case studies that follow illustrate aspects of the experiences of Allegheny, Dakota, and Palm Beach Counties in their journeys toward a more balanced and restorative justice system.
History. Dakota County's systemic restorative justice effort began in 1993. Previously, restorative justice principles and programming had existed on a continuum among staff from those who were committed to those with little or no commitment. Restorative justice practices were seen in programs such as victim-offender mediation, restitution, and the youth repay crew. While these programs were operating, a large segment of juvenile justice professionals in Dakota County Community Corrections had limited understanding and commitment to restorative justice principles and practices.
The paradigm shift from a retributive model to a restorative justice model for Dakota County Community Corrections began under the creative and visionary leadership of the Dakota County Community Corrections director who, over the past few years, has led the department on the journey to develop a vision. The resultant vision became the process of implementing restorative justice principles and practices from which a new model of probation has begun to evolve.
Purpose. The transformation process began with an assessment of the level of receptivity among staff for adopting a restorative justice framework. It was apparent that if the majority of the staff could not align themselves with this framework, then it would be futile to proceed with the goal of implementing restorative justice.
The key for organizational change was collaboration between staff and management. As a result, early in the process, staff became involved in reviewing information and selecting a new model for community justice.
Target Population. Leadership (not limited to management) within the department was the primary target for change. For BARJ to become the practice, department leadership needed a clear understanding of the model and how it would impact the organization. In addition to targeting leadership within the department, it was essential to educate and continually update the entire department.
Key Element. The key element in this organizational change was strong influential, creative, passionate, and visionary leadership, with a commitment to a long journey and a collaborative process.
On January 5, 1995, the department adopted a new mission statement that reflects the department's commitment to restorative justice. The mission statement, the result of more than 2 years of work, reads as follows:
We are committed to preventing crime and repairing harm caused by crime. We promote:
Overview of Committees. Department progress is guided by five implementation committees, or groups. Each committee is at a different stage of development based on their assigned tasks.
The first edition of the department's Restorative Justice Reporter was distributed in November 1995. The purpose of the newsletter is to facilitate the flow of restorative justice information and to recognize the work of the department staff.
The timeline for implementing restorative justice proceeded through five phases of development:
Major Strength of the Organizational Change Process in Dakota County. The major strength in this organizational change process was the use of all-day training sessions with national consultants who were credible and knowledgeable and had made similar departmental changes in regard to restorative justice principles and practices. In addition, the entire department was encouraged to participate in this collaborative effort. Approximately 80 percent of the department currently supports restorative justice practices.
Plans for Strengthening Weak Areas. The plan currently is to continue strengthening staff support of restorative justice through continued education, training, and support, with a primary focus on competency development. In that area, probation staff participated in implementing cognitive behavioral interventions with offenders with the overall goal of reducing recidivism. To support that process, staff will continue to participate in skill-development trainings.
Developing and implementing restorative justice is a challenging task that requires commitment to a long journey, which allows sufficient time for staff to process their concerns and offer input. Success depends on clear and specific goals and collaboration among staff. In addition, it requires the involvement of other systems that are impacted by changes made in the correctional department.
Palm Beach County is the third most populated county in the State of Florida. Between 1980 and 1990, the county grew by nearly 50 percent. The population age 19 and under is projected to increase 32 percent from 1990 to the year 2000. In 1990, the population age 19 and under was 75.8 percent Caucasian, 22.5 percent African-American, and 1.6 percent other races. A total of 11.2 percent of this population was reported to be of Hispanic origin.
Palm Beach County's involvement in the BARJ effort began in 1993 with the hiring of a new juvenile justice manager. He brought the BARJ mission and philosophy to the county's district IX system. He began by educating the major stakeholders -- judges, staff, public defenders, case managers, and the State's attorney. In 1993, Palm Beach County was selected as a pilot site for the national BARJ Project. Since then, district IX has worked to institutionalize a balanced approach to restorative justice throughout the county's juvenile justice system. This effort has required collaboration between case management and residential facility staff, community activists, the nonprofit sector, law enforcement, victim-services providers, the court system (i.e., judges, public defenders, and State's attorneys), local businesses, and other government entities.
Three basic strategies have been used to build the system's capacity to actualize the three components of restorative justice. First, the district IX administration and the BARJ site coordinator have worked to develop partnerships and system infrastructure that support the translation of BARJ philosophies into programmatic activities. Education of key stakeholders in the district has also required continued dialogue, debate, and forums for continued communication on district activities. Finally, much effort has been expended on developing resources such as leadership talent among the staff and new funding sources to support new restorative initiatives.
Accountability. Accountability in juvenile justice requires balanced attention among victims, communities, and offenders. It also requires that juvenile offenders be held accountable to the persons who were directly injured by their delinquent activity and to communities that suffer when these youthful offenders do not participate as productive citizens. Accountability in juvenile justice also includes holding the community accountable to its young people. The community-at-large is responsible for providing its youth with structures and opportunities that teach them how to be productive, successful members of society and how to get what they need without hurting others. Communities must also provide youth with opportunities to practice the skills they learned.
Responsiveness to the victims of juvenile crime was perhaps the most neglected aspect of restorative justice in the county. Similar to most juvenile justice systems in this country, juvenile justice in Palm Beach County allotted relatively little attention to the victims of juvenile crime and, in some cases, sought to avoid victims altogether. District IX has worked to address this area of weakness.
Competency Development. In the area of competency development, efforts have been made to move from traditional types of community service toward youth development projects. In the past, community service has involved picking up trash, writing essays, stuffing envelopes, and, in some cases, showing up with shovels. However, rarely has completion of community service hours required the youth to show up with lively and active minds.
District IX is developing its infrastructure to support youth development projects that provide youth with the opportunity to learn marketable skills, earn money for restitution, and act as responsible members of their communities. For example, the Loxahatchee project is providing the opportunity for young men from a residential facility to work in a wildlife refuge and learn about environmental planning and management. Youth involved in the project have also earned money to pay restitution and, where relevant, child support through a partnership with the U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
District IX received two grant awards to support service projects for first- and second-degree misdemeanants. The projects are modeled after a national crime prevention program called "Youth as Resources," which involves youth in the conceptualization, planning, and management of community service projects. Two community-based organizations and one civic organization provide adult supervision for the projects. District IX supports existing organizations that want to work with the community's young people.
Community Safety. The Exodus project at Palm Beach County's Glades Glen Apartment complex involves onsite support services. A department of juvenile justice delinquency counselor has offices at the apartment complex. Youth under juvenile justice supervision report for afterschool activities between 3:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Activities include tutorial programs, computer labs, individual and group counseling sessions, employability skills development, and recreational activities. The project supervisor is also working with the local private industry council to provide work opportunities so that restitution is paid. Certain youth will receive Red Cross training and certification in child care in order to operate a babysitting program within the complex.
Other juvenile justice case management units make regular presentations on crime prevention and the consequences of crime to the elementary and middle schools. One case manager provides crisis intervention/anger control training to teachers, parents, and students at a local school. Counselors, under the direction of a case management supervisor, visit at least once per week with local school administrators to monitor youth on community control and participate in an early warning program designed to identify at-risk young people. A supervisor and project staff assist school staff on a regular basis during the lunch period. These efforts represent effective partnerships and mutually beneficial relationships between the educational community and district IX.
District IX has worked to open new lines of communication with victims and victim services advocates and providers. In November 1995, all members of the Victims Coalition of Palm Beach County were invited to a roundtable discussion of victim issues. Victim advocates shared their concerns regarding victim rights and will continue to provide a victim's perspective on policy decisions.
In early December 1995, case management units and residential facility staff participated in victim-awareness training based on the work of the National Organization for Victim Assistance. One goal of the district administration is to develop an organizational culture that is sensitive and responsive to victim needs. Case management counselors and all facility staff are encouraged to be "the voice of victims" when they speak to offenders, not allowing offenders to depersonalize the victims of their crimes and educating offenders on the tremendous impact their actions have on innocent lives.
Two residential facilities participated actively in the victim-awareness training, and they are working to update victim-awareness curriculums developed for offenders. Facility staff collect newspaper stories, educational material, and case scenarios on victimization as the basis for group discussion. District IX is collaborating with the Giddings State School in Texas to both update and streamline training material that may be used for juvenile institutions nationally and develop a questionnaire that will help measure offender improvements in victim sensitivity. Efforts have built on earlier work by Ohio's Buckeye Training Program.
In addition, district IX is working with the office of the State's attorney, residential facilities, and the contracted clinical overlay staff of the local parent-child center to institutionalize a victim-dialogue program. The Palm Beach Youth Center, a maximum security facility for committed juvenile offenders, has independently had crime victims, including drunk-driving victims, speak at the facility since 1993. The State's attorney's office agreed to send out notification of the program when cases are closed out, except when deemed not in the best interest of the crime victim. Victims of juvenile crime are provided the opportunity to tell their stories through letters and victim impact panels. The clinical staff at the Youth Center are responsible for screening and preparing participants for the victim impact panels, in addition to working with facility staff and offenders to maximize the impact of the panel presentations. Youth Center staff work to provide victims with a sense of security and care when they visit the facilities.
The weak link in these efforts is direct victim involvement. Since early November 1995, notices have been sent to victims to enlist their involvement, with little response. As a result, both case management and facility staff have been asked to invite victims of juvenile crime that they know to participate. By asking only individuals that staff know, it is hoped that the process will avoid revictimizing victims. The program also has plans to advertise on public access television.
The following are considerations for incorporating victim impact panels and victim awareness into facility programs:
CISP began in June 1990 as a component of Allegheny County Juvenile Court Services. CISP is governed by the court of common pleas, family division-juvenile section under the direction of the director of juvenile court services. CISP's purpose is to provide an alternative to institutionalization for youth under court supervision who continue to commit delinquent acts. A community-based program, CISP uses highly structured supervision and scheduling to control behavior.
The program began with three centers in Pittsburgh neighborhoods. A fourth was added in April 1994, and a fifth opened in 1996.
Key elements of the program are:
Although not designed specifically around BARJ principles, CISP incorporated aspects of the BARJ approach from its inception, thus making the program's transition to becoming a BARJ Model site relatively smooth. Consistent with BARJ practices, project design emphasized achieving community safety without using secure custody. The program uses a comprehensive approach to monitoring and structuring activities in the community to ensure that the juveniles involved will not reoffend while in the program. Also consistent with BARJ practices, the program was designed with a strong emphasis on having juveniles maintain ties to their community. Juveniles at each center are residents of the neighborhood where the center is located, and most staff are from the same neighborhood.
Although the project included education and treatment from its inception, the conceptualization of those components has been altered by involvement in the BARJ Project. For example, BARJ training and technical assistance helped staff discern potential in the juveniles with whom they worked. They evolved from thinking of things to do to the youth (i.e., to "fix" them) to things the youth could do for themselves and others. Staff began to recognize the youth's skills. In the drug and alcohol treatment component, instead of viewing juveniles as recipients of information needed to make better choices, staff view youth as potential teachers who can become involved in wider community prevention efforts.
The most visible changes have occurred in the area of accountability to victims. Restitution has become a much higher priority as a result of involvement in the BARJ Project. However, more work is needed to increase victim awareness and involvement in the process of holding offenders accountable. These are the areas where CISP is setting new expectations and priorities to facilitate movement toward a more balanced and restorative system. Accountability to communities through community service is well established at all CISP sites. However, more work is needed to increase community involvement and a sense of community ownership in some sites. In general, BARJ has helped CISP expand its objectives from primarily those focused on community safety to additional goals that focus on accountability and competency development to weave all three strands together.
One major change implicit in shifting to a more balanced and restorative system is a change in the relationship between the juvenile justice system and the community. The CISP experience exemplifies both the potential and the challenges of creating new links with communities in a new relationship.
In the BARJ Model, community ownership of the problem of delinquency and community commitment are critical to being a part of the solution. In most jurisdictions today, communities send youthful offenders to the juvenile system to get rid of them. Communities expect the system to "fix" the juveniles or to keep them away forever. However, the system cannot "fix" juveniles without reference to the context of community, nor can it simply banish youth forever.
The CISP sites experience varying degrees of community support and commitment to being part of the solution. For example, the Garfield Center has an exemplary relationship with the Bloomfield-Garfield Corporation (BGC), a neighborhood-based community development group that constructs brick and mortar projects and also actively promotes youth development. BGC's director believes that these young people are part of the community and a resource to the organization and the neighborhood and refers to them as "extended staff." BGC involves juveniles in multiple activities, including community service, participation in community events, job opportunities, and community forums and media interviews. BGC defends CISP against community criticism and advocates in the community for the youth who are involved in the program. BGC consciously incorporates a role for CISP youth in its proposals. For example, a Get Out To Vote project included 10 paid positions for CISP youth to do the canvassing work. A BGC construction proposal included a component to introduce six youth to the construction trades through experience with the contractor. BGC treats CISP youth as an integral part of the community and actively seeks ways to involve them in BGC activities.
BGC support is contingent on the program serving youth from the neighborhood. If the program was simply located in the neighborhood but served the entire city, BGC would be much less likely to view the youth as its responsibility. The strong relationship between the Garfield Center and BGC was initiated by BGC, although with concerns. BGC's director had seen a newspaper article about a new program that was to be placed in the neighborhood and wondered why BGC had not been involved or informed. The director immediately contacted all whose names were in the article and asked questions about the program. After extensive research, she concluded that not only could BGC support the program, but working with CISP would fit BGC's mission.
Although the initial interaction between BGC and CISP held the potential to be adversarial, CISP responded cooperatively, provided information, and listened to concerns. That response opened the door to a long-term positive relationship. The Garfield Center's supervisor serves on BGC's board of directors. Further, based on that positive experience, the Garfield Center developed mutually beneficial relationships with other community organizations.
Nevertheless, at other CISP centers it has been more difficult to establish the program as an integral part of the community. However, the Hill Center took advantage of an opportunity provided by a resident who offered to help the juveniles develop a garden on a vacant lot. That project has provided a foundation for positive membership in the community by the program.
Critical lessons learned from the CISP experience:
Each pilot site has experienced significant change as it carves a path toward a more balanced and restorative system. Progress along the path raises new issues and challenges.
In CISP, difficult questions have arisen regarding exit from the program.
Although CISP has been successful at managing the behavior of the juveniles; keeping them in school, scheduled, and off drugs and alcohol; and giving them constructive roles in the community through community service, the juvenile and his or her parents may have come to rely on the program to control the juvenile's behavior. How does that control get transferred back to the parent? Who can the juvenile turn to in the community for support? Staff report that some parents dread the program's conclusion because the structure and control have been beneficial, and the parents may feel unable to provide these essential ingredients themselves. Can the community be engaged in the program in a way that continues after the juvenile leaves the program?
At the Dakota County site, there is tension between the sense that things are moving too slowly and the sense that they are moving much too quickly.
The value-driven nature of the BARJ approach engages some people at a deep emotional level. It may connect with a person's spirituality in a way that energizes and motivates that person to want to move quickly to the vision. Others may not share that passion and wish to move cautiously, easing into new practices and behavior. Some staff may feel frustrated by the slow pace while others may feel unable to get their bearings because the change is so rapid. Can an organization maintain the energy of the enthusiastic staff without alienating the more cautious staff?
The Palm Beach site has succeeded in increasing awareness of victim issues within juvenile justice practice. Will that effort continue?
Staff have embraced the goal of increasing offender awareness of victim impact through the victim impact panels. Through working with victim advocates, the staff began to notify victims of the possibility of participating on these panels but were disappointed by the lack of response from victims. Enormous patience is required in implementing new approaches involving victims. Past experience with the justice system often prompts great wariness among victims. The length of time since the offense may discourage victim involvement. Many victims may simply never wish to interact with juvenile offenders. All of these complicate the process of involving victims. Will juvenile justice practitioners be willing to persist in finding solutions to these barriers and to build relationships over a long period of time with victims and victim advocates? To address this barrier, the Palm Beach site is encouraging staff to invite known victims, including staff members who have been victimized themselves, to participate on victim impact panels.
Comprehensive involvement of victims in planning and implementation has not yet been accomplished in the BARJ sites. Inertia, longstanding habits, uncertainty about how to involve victims, and a lack of knowledge about victimization are all challenges to overcome. Although awareness is growing, much remains to be done to achieve the full participation called for in the Balanced and Restorative Justice Model.
For more information about the Balanced and Restorative Justice pilot sites, contact:
Mark Carey, Director
Greg Johnson, Juvenile Justice Manager
George Kinder, CISP Program Coordinator