Webinar on Restorative Justice Diversion for Young People

Updated August 2, 2023 | Posted July 17, 2023
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Three people sit around a table, talking

What is restora­tive jus­tice diver­sion for young peo­ple? How does it hold youth account­able for their behav­ior out­side of the tra­di­tion­al jus­tice system?

On Tues­day, Aug. 1, 2023, the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion host­ed a webi­nar on best prac­tices for restora­tive jus­tice diver­sion and col­lab­o­ra­tion. The ses­sion fea­tured a con­ver­sa­tion between Jes­si­ca Ellis, exec­u­tive direc­tor of Cen­tinela Youth Ser­vices — the ser­vice provider fea­tured in the webi­nar — and William Scott, San Fran­cis­co’s chief of police.

Ellis and Scott — who pre­vi­ous­ly served as the deputy chief in the Los Ange­les Police Depart­ment — relat­ed restora­tive jus­tice diver­sion to keep­ing com­mu­ni­ties safe, hold­ing young peo­ple account­able for their actions and sup­port­ing youth in becom­ing pro­duc­tive adults while also meet­ing the needs of crime victims.

Dur­ing the one-hour event, Ellis and Scott reflect­ed on launch­ing a pilot in Los Ange­les Coun­ty that saw law enforce­ment offi­cers refer­ring young peo­ple to restora­tive jus­tice diver­sion in lieu of arrest­ing them.

Restora­tive Jus­tice Diversion

Restora­tive jus­tice diver­sion uses the prin­ci­ples of restora­tive jus­tice to build a sense of com­mu­ni­ty while respond­ing to con­flict and harm. Restora­tive jus­tice con­fer­ences and sim­i­lar strate­gies bring togeth­er peo­ple who have caused harm and those they have harmed. A trained facil­i­ta­tor leads these con­fer­ences, which occur out­side of a poten­tial­ly adver­sar­i­al court pro­ceed­ing. Dur­ing a ses­sion, par­tic­i­pants talk about what hap­pened and col­lab­o­rate on an appro­pri­ate solu­tion that pri­or­i­tizes both account­abil­i­ty and fairness. 

Since 1975, Cen­tinela Youth Ser­vices has helped youth referred to them by law enforce­ment. The offi­cers who made these refer­rals sought to con­nect young peo­ple to coun­sel­ing and sup­port instead of arrest­ing them. Centinela’s ser­vices include medi­a­tion and resti­tu­tion facil­i­ta­tion between the youth who have com­mit­ted an offense and the per­son they harmed.

Focus on Collaboration

The key to this work is build­ing and sus­tain­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion among com­mu­ni­ty-based orga­ni­za­tions and their part­ners with­in the jus­tice-sys­tem — a group that includes law enforce­ment, youth pro­ba­tion, pros­e­cu­tors, defense attor­neys and judges.

Healthy part­ner­ships fuel the suc­cess of restora­tive jus­tice diver­sion and make data shar­ing, which is crit­i­cal to this work, pos­si­ble and pro­duc­tive. Accord­ing­ly, webi­nar atten­dees learned what type of data to col­lect, how to ana­lyze it effec­tive­ly and how share it appro­pri­ate­ly. The ses­sion also cov­ered how part­ners can mon­i­tor diver­sion oppor­tu­ni­ties to ensure that they are offered equi­tably to both white youth and youth of color. 

Suc­cess­ful pre-arrest diver­sion with restora­tive jus­tice hap­pens when there’s trust and align­ment,” says Jaqui­ta Mon­roe, a senior asso­ciate with the Casey Foun­da­tion who mod­er­at­ed the webi­nar. Such con­di­tions lead to the indi­vid­u­als harmed feel­ing seen and heard and young peo­ple being sup­port­ed rather than pushed into the legal system.”

Watch the Recording

Relat­ed Resources on Youth Diversion

What is juve­nile diversion

Diver­sion key to com­bat­ing racial and eth­nic dis­par­i­ties in juve­nile justice

Expand­ing the use of diversion

Increas­ing suc­cess­ful diver­sion for youth of color

Expand­ing law enforcement’s role in pre-arrest diver­sion of youth 

What is restora­tive jus­tice for young people

Restora­tive Jus­tice Diver­sion: Data Col­lec­tion & Analy­sis Tips

Restora­tive Jus­tice Diver­sion: Plan for Col­lab­o­ra­tive Communication

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