Case Study

Creating Responsive Justice for Youth, Victims, and Communities within the Youth Justice System

Icon: Context

Many youth and juvenile justice departments across North America were early adopters of restorative justice programs and frameworks. This leadership has often resulted in a more trauma-informed, dignified approach to responding to crime committed by youth. However, disproportionality, the school to prison pipeline and the criminalization of youth behavioral issues persist. We believe that a more holistic implementation of restorative justice serves to expand on the legacy of progressive youth justice.

Icon: Approach

New youth justice program development and implementation initiatives are unlikely to succeed without internal culture and paradigm shifts. This training, requested by the Ministry of Children and Families’ Youth Justice Division, provided an opportunity to work with youth probation officers to identify the ways in which restorative justice values and principles can inform their day-to-day practices with youth, victims, families, and community.

Participating probation officers emerged from this training having re-envisioned their role, their relationships to clients, and their impact on the justice experience for victims/survivors, youth and their families, and the community. This hands on, one-day training is designed to support probation officers in expanding their lens of service provision to actively include restorative justice values and principles, leading to enhanced and expanded services to all existing clients of the youth justice system.

Icon: Outcomes

Forty-one of forty-two participants indicated that their understanding and perspective on the topics covered were expanded. Participants indicated the expansion occurred through a variety of ways, for example:

“I understand now how conversations early on in the justice process can be important in setting up both victims and youth for the restorative justice process.”

“How I can incorporate working with victims more often and on a deeper level.”

“We typically have not involved victims, so it was nice to think about how to involve them.”

“I will re-evaluate my caseload and opportunities for exploring restorative justice.”

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