Source: (2004) New York: Center for Court Innovation.

What are these boards? A youth accountability board recruits,scr eens and trains volunteers from a designated neighborhood to mete out sanctions for low-level offenses. These volunteers meet with a young person who has committed an offense,along with his family. Direct victims are invited to participate in the meetings either in person or through a written statement. During the meeting,the young person gets a chance to air his story and to explain the circumstances that led him to commit the offense. The community members have an opportunity to explain the impact of the juvenile’s behavior on the neighborhood. Participation is voluntary,and the goals are to hold the young person accountable; repair the harm done to the direct victim and affected community; and provide the young person with the help needed to avoid further offending. Each meeting results in a contract that the youth agrees to complete within a certain time frame,with conditions such as an apology letter,r estitution,c ommunity service,educa tional components, and more. The goal of this paper is to set out the essential elements of youth accountability boards; highlight their benefits to prosecutors,boar d participants and communities; and offer concrete advice to those interested in starting a new board program. The paper will also suggest ways to gauge a program’s success,char t the evolution of board programs and look to the future of accountability boards as an innovative crime-fighting tool. (excerpt)


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