The Marathon County Restorative Justice Program receives referrals of juvenile offenders, mainly between the ages of 12 and 16, for various types of crime. Staff members prepare the young offenders to meet with their victims to allow the two parties to decide the best way for the case to be resolved. Carrie describes how the process seeks to instil empathy in the young offenders by helping them to see the fact that they have offended against someone – something that doesn’t necessarily happen in the court process. She also goes on to explain how a large percentage of victims to participate. While the process does not necessarily lead to forgiveness, the victims benefit a great deal from having their questions answered.
According to Carrie, 98% of the young offenders complete the agreements developed in the conference process in Marathon County. Both program staff and community volunteers walk alongside the young people seeking to meet the responsibilities to the victim. A victim assistance fund, created by various community agencies, allows the young people to work at minimum wage jobs to earn the needed funds to pay restitution.