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A Little Place Making a Big Impact: Deschutes County’s Mark on Juvenile Justice

O'Brien, Sandra
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) Juvenile and Family Justice Today. 12(1):17-22.

In 1986, the officials in Deschutes County proposed that the juvenile court balance public safety, offender accountability, and offender competency development when presiding over juvenile delinquency cases. The balanced approach was founded on the beliefs that the public has a right to be safe and secure; that a person must repair the harm suffered by the victim and the community when committing an offense; and offenders should become more capable of living responsibly and productively in the community. The county was one of the first jurisdictions to officially incorporate restorative justice as an important philosophy for the justice system. Following this action, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention launched the Balanced and Restorative Justice Project. A national study was conducted in 1999 to document the extent to which the philosophy had been put into operation. The study found that 28 States had adopted the policy and all 50 States reported significant policy and program activity in this area. The Balanced and Restorative Justice policy appeals to people of diverse political persuasions and diverse demographic communities. This philosophy has now become the Nation’s norm for juvenile court practice. Deschutes County has also led the way on several other initiatives that have prompted national reform, including community justice, accountability to crime victims, family court, and reducing dependence on State institutions. The County also established a set of measurements or benchmarks that could inform the citizens and professional staff of the results being achieved in the justice system. Many communities are struggling to take on the new responsibilities of local government and do not have the governmental infrastructure to do so. Many communities seek to increase local bureaucracy to handle this additional responsibility. Abstract courtesy of National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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