Juvenile Justice Video: Caring Adults Kept Aurelia on Track

Posted May 8, 2017, By the Annie E. Casey Foundation

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Involve­ment in the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem increas­es the odds that a young per­son will drop out of high school and be incar­cer­at­ed as a teenag­er or an adult. A new video — the first in a series as the Juve­nile Deten­tion Alter­na­tives Ini­tia­tive® turns 25 — tells the sto­ry of a young woman in trou­ble for whom car­ing adults made a dif­fer­ent deci­sion, pur­su­ing an effec­tive con­flict res­o­lu­tion approach instead of arrest.

Her school resource offi­cer and an expert in alter­na­tive dis­pute res­o­lu­tion offered Aure­lia, who had a his­to­ry of phys­i­cal alter­ca­tions at her high school, a chance at a dif­fer­ent way to address her behav­ior and resolve the issues behind it. Nicole Glass, the for­mer oper­a­tions direc­tor at the Com­mu­ni­ty Con­fer­enc­ing Cen­ter in Bal­ti­more, said that with the help of the school, her orga­ni­za­tion brought togeth­er the young peo­ple involved in the con­flict and those who were harmed by it to talk it through in a process known as restora­tive justice.

Restora­tive jus­tice brings peo­ple togeth­er who have been affect­ed by an inci­dent — those who have been harmed as well as those who may have done harm — to resolve the case them­selves. The process empow­ers young peo­ple while hold­ing them account­able for their actions and help­ing them fig­ure out how to pre­vent some­thing sim­i­lar from hap­pen­ing again.

With the Com­mu­ni­ty Con­fer­enc­ing Center’s facil­i­ta­tion, Aure­lia and her class­mates were able to resolve the sit­u­a­tion on their own, which kept them from enter­ing the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem. Aure­lia stopped fight­ing, grad­u­at­ed from high school and col­lege and now is focused on her daugh­ter and career in accounting.

The Com­mu­ni­ty Con­fer­enc­ing Cen­ter reports that young par­tic­i­pants in its pro­gram are 60% less like­ly to be rear­rest­ed than those who go through the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem. The approach shows the pow­er car­ing adults have to pro­vide the guid­ance, edu­ca­tion and sup­port young peo­ple need to get back on track, even for young peo­ple in more seri­ous trou­ble than Aure­lia was.

If we shift our spend­ing from inef­fec­tive facil­i­ties to effec­tive ear­ly inter­ven­tion and diver­sion pro­grams like restora­tive jus­tice, we can keep more young peo­ple like Aure­lia out of the juve­nile jus­tice sys­tem and on track to ful­fill their poten­tial,” said Nate Balis, direc­tor of the Foundation’s Juve­nile Jus­tice Strat­e­gy Group.

The video debuted at the 2017 JDAI Nation­al Inter-Site Con­fer­ence before an audi­ence of juve­nile jus­tice professionals.

Learn more about the Foundation’s juve­nile jus­tice work

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