A Restorative Path for Youthful Offenders
An innovative program on youth justice got a boost recently when the National Center for Adoption Law and Policy at Capital University Law School received the Gerhold Award, which is funded by an endowment established by Edward Gerhold to support research, creative work, and the scholarship of engagement.
The award will support NCALP’s “restorative justice” programming for youth, which (in collaboration with United Way of Central Ohio and the Franklin County Juvenile Court) seeks to support and develop non-retributive responses to first time youthful offenses. Restorative justice principles focus on victim inclusion and reparation, avoidance of repeat offenses by linking youthful offenders with community members and resources, and restoration of community.
Initially, NCALP was retained by the Juvenile Court and United Way to develop and lead “restorative justice circle” training for community volunteers in six Franklin County neighborhoods. Volunteers who complete the training lead circle sessions that hold offenders accountable and give them the opportunity to repair harm done to victims and make positive contributions to their own communities. Youth who successfully complete the process avoid further entanglement with the court system.
NCALP has since been asked to expand its participation in the court’s program for the upcoming fiscal year by assisting with community engagement and education and identifying additional opportunities for integration of Restorative Justice principles. The Gerhold grant will support expansion of this work into additional Central Ohio court systems. It will also support development of school-based restorative justice programming as an alternative to suspension and expulsion, which have proven ineffective.
“We are delighted that the University has chosen to further support our work in the area of restorative justice for youth,” said Denise St. Clair, Executive Director of NCALP. “This grant will help make a major difference in our efforts to help youthful offenders find a path to successful lives and personal achievement outside the court system.