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Mid-City CAN Blog

Trip to Oakland provides model of restorative justice

Restorative Justice

 

A group of about half a dozen members of the Peace Promotion Momentum Team and San Diego leaders in the juvenile justice system traveled on Nov. 5 and 6 to Oakland to observe a model of restorative justice in action.

 

Restorative justice is a community driven process where victims are actively involved and offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for what they’ve done.

 

The group was part of a Restorative Justice Learning Exchange at the California Endowment’s Oakland Conference Center. Partners in the exchange include Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, Community Works, and Sujatha Baliga with the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

 

The goals were to enhance Mid-City CAN resident leaders and San Diego juvenile justice systems leaders’ understanding of restorative justice and its application. The group also wanted to learn from the Alameda County Restorative Justice Task force members’ experience.

 

Margie H. DeLeon, Probation Director with the County of San Diego Probation Department in the Juvenile Field Services Intake and Investigation department, participated in the trip and wrote about her experiences:

 

During the trip to Oakland, I, along with my boss and colleague, as well as the Juvenile Deputy District Attorney had an opportunity to see how Alameda County utilizes restorative justice or RJ. We had an opportunity to participate in the “circle” and really experience how restorative justice participants go through the RJ process. I found the circle process to be interesting, and it gave a real perspective on how RJ works. It really felt like I was in a “circle of trust”. There were representatives from Alameda County Probation Department, including a director of juvenile camps, a juvenile director and the interim chief probation officer as well as the Alameda county Juvenile Deputy District Attorney. It was nice to see how the RJ process was working in the respective agencies, and we branched out in certain workgroups to discuss the RJ referral process, and which juvenile cases were appropriate. We learned that juvenile youth housed in the camps were eligible to participate in RJ. Potential early release was an incentive if they completed the RJ process. We felt that in general it was a great place to implement RJ and a good incentive for the juveniles. It was also good to hear from folks that already participated in the process as a victim and perpetrator. They seemed to really believe in the process and how it helped with their rehabilitation and recovery.

 

Initially, I was not sure what to expect about Restorative Justice and in looking at Alameda County, it seemed as if it could work in San Diego County since we have such strong collaborative partnerships that currently exist between all county agencies, such as probation, attorneys, courts, etc. Oakland seems to have a lot of agencies that could facilitate RJ. I am unsure if there are any agencies in San Diego County that could facilitate RJ, but it would be nice to utilize RJ with youth in the juvenile justice system to help with the balanced approach of accountability and rehabilitation.

 

Overall, the trip to Oakland was informative, and we gained a great perspective of Restorative Justice from the various agencies in Alameda County. I really enjoyed the opportunity and look forward to visiting other counties utilizing RJ to see their outcomes on how successful RJ is for those youth participating in it.

 

- Margie H. DeLeon

 

 

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