What is Teen Justice?
Teen Justice is a community-based program that operates in two capacities: deflection and diversion services for youth. Students and adult volunteers are trained to implement restorative justice practices and to listen to real juvenile cases from within Macon County. High school students, college students, case managers, victims, social services personnel, school district personnel, and community volunteers work together with participants and families to develop appropriate service plans for program participants. Teen Justice is an alternative response to arrest, formal court processes, and formal school suspension/expulsion processes. Rather than focusing on punishment, this program concentrates on repairing relationships between individuals and teaching participants to repair harm they caused to other people. If participants successfully complete service plans, then no arrest is made in deflection cases, 2) no formal charges are filed in open court, and 3) relationships are restored/repaired. If participants do not complete proposed service plans, the cases will be returned to the original referral source for further action – however this is the absolute last resort. The goal is to work with all youth toward a goal of having all cases dropped – as if they never existed.
In its delivery, Teen Justice is a multi-tiered program that lasts for a minimum of three months. Through the use of evidence-based assessment tools to assess risk of re-offense, individual and family needs, trauma-based needs, and mental health of juveniles referred to the program. The program philosophy hinges on restorative justice principles and incorporates various community resources to assist participants with completion of service plans.