Diverting cases that normally result in criminal or juvenile charges to restorative justice does much more than prevent system involvement for young people. The process allows the person harmed, the responsible youth, family, and community members to come together to discuss what happened, including the causes and effects. Together, at the direction of the person harmed, a plan is produced for the young person to make things right by the person harmed, family, community, and themselves. The young person is supported by family and community-based organizations to complete the plan, and when the plan is completed, no charges are ever filed.
A step-by-step infographic shows you how a Restorative Community Conferencing process works.
Our model of RJD is defined by 8 core elements:
- Element 1: Oriented around the needs of people harmed
- Element 2: Designed to end racial & ethnic disparities in juvenile and criminal legal systems
- Element 3: Focused exclusively on pre-charge diversion
- Element 4: Structured to prevent net-widening in the juvenile legal system
- Element 5: Dedicated to a strengths-based approach to healing harm
- Element 6: Rooted in relationships – how to nourish, deepen, and heal them
- Element 7: Committed to protecting participant confidentiality
- Element 8: Created and held by community and community-based organizations
We provide customized training and technical assistance to community organizations and system partners across the country to understand and operationalize these elements in the programs they design for their jurisdictions. Additionally, we collect and evaluate data with our sites to inform the implementation of restorative justice diversion as an evidence-based alternative to criminalization. To learn more about how we operationalize these elements, please watch our Introduction to Restorative Justice Diversion webinar.
Community Partners / Leading Restorative Justice Diversion
Restorative Community Conferencing
Alameda County, CA (Oakland) was the first site to partner with Impact Justice to launch a restorative justice diversion project. Since 2012, Community Works West (CWW) has received cases from the District Attorney in Alameda County, CA such that young people (under age 18) facing serious charges (nearly 70% of which are felonies) are diverted from the juvenile legal system pre-charge into the Restorative Community Conferencing process that CWW facilitates.
San Francisco, CA
Since 2013, Community Works West (CWW)’s Make it Right program receives cases from the District Attorney in San Francisco County such that young people facing felony charges are diverted pre-charge from the juvenile legal system into the restorative justice conferencing process pre-charge. In 2021, CWW in San Francisco expanded the population of young people they serve to include transitional age young adults (ages 18-24), for serious charges.
In San Francisco, CWW facilitates the restorative justice conference, and then refers young people to a third party, Huckleberry Youth Programs to ensure completion of their plans.
In partnership with CWW, Huckleberry’s Community Assessment and Resource Center (CARC) supports young people (13-24) to fulfill their plan to repair harm through post-conferencing case management.
Long Beach, CA
California Conference for Equality and Justice
Since 2013, CCEJ has been receiving cases from the District Attorney in Los Angeles County such that young people (under age 18) facing charges are diverted pre-charge from the juvenile legal system into the Restorative Community Conferencing process that CCEJ facilitates.
Since 2018, the Raphah Institute has received cases from the Juvenile Courts in Davidson County, TN such that young people (under age 19) facing serious charges are diverted from the juvenile legal system. Raphah Institute then facilitates the Restorative Community Conferencing process to advance accountability and healing.
RYSE Youth Center launched their restorative justice program, RESTOR in 2019. They receive cases from the District Attorney in Contra Costa County, CA such that young people (under age 18) facing serious charges that may have resulted in incarceration or probation are diverted pre-charge from the juvenile legal system into the Restorative Community Conferencing process that RYSE facilitates.
Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project
In 2021, the Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project (YASP) began receiving cases from the District Attorney in Philadelphia County, PA such that young people (under age 18) facing serious charges that would likely result in probation or incarceration are diverted either pre-charge or pre-petition from the juvenile legal system into the Restorative Community Conferencing process that YASP facilitates.
In August 2022, Insight Alliance’s Restorative Roots Program began receiving cases of serious harms, otherwise subject to terms of imprisonment, pre-indictment for restorative justice alternatives. The Multnomah County District Attorney and Metropolitan Public Defender collaborate to refer persons harmed, along with young adults (18-30 years) charged with First and Second Degree Robbery, and/or Assault in the Second Degree, to this program, which will utilize the established Restorative Community Conferencing (RCC) model.
In 2020, the Metropolitan King County Council established Restorative Community Pathways, a coalition of youth serving organizations and peer navigators, including Collective Justice who focuses on Restorative Community Conferencing for youth. Since 2021, Collective Justice has been receiving cases pre-charge from the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for high level misdemeanors and some felonies for youth under age 21.
New Orleans, LA
Center for Restorative Approaches
In 2021, the Center for Restorative Approaches in New Orleans partnered with the Orleans Parish District Attorney to divert youth pre-petition under age 18 with serious misdemeanor and some felony charges to Restorative Community Conferencing.
In 2022, following an extensive county-wide initiative to explore how to adopt restorative justice practices in Arlington’s schools, legal system, and community contexts, the community based organization Restorative Arlington was created. By December 2022, Restorative Arlington’s Heart of Safety program will provide RCCs to address harms diverted from the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church and Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Services Unit for Arlington County and the City of Falls Church. Restorative Arlington will accept cases pre-charge for youth and pre-petition for transition-aged youth and adults.