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Barron County Restorative Justice Programs: A partnership model for balancing community and government resources for juvenile justice services

December 5, 2011

….A symbiotic relationship between county agencies, schools, and BCRJP has evolved to the extent that if BCRJP ceased to exist, the referral agencies would experience some degree of loss due to the pressures of handling extra casework. Additional partnerships for BCRJP include Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin, where BCRJP operates as a Goodwill program while operating as a separate 501(c)3 (an organization with nonprofit status). BCRJP’s full involvement with the Safe & Stable Families Coalition is another partnership vital to promoting agency-community collaboration throughout the county. 

As a show of the value that BCRJP brings to Barron County, local tax-payer monies account for 55% of BCRJP’s annual budget. This includes not only general county funds, but also monies that go through schools and social services. Currently, BCRJP has a staff of nine (five full-time, two at 30 hours, and two full-time AmeriCorps workers). A balanced partnership between community and government resources has allowed BCRJP to grow over the years. 

As a non-profit agency, BCRJP is a gateway to community involvement when it comes to resolution processes for crimes and conflicts. In turn, this mobilization of community-generated resources through coordinated volunteerism has saved the county money and has relieved government agencies of additional work.

Another example of this partnership model is Restorative Justice Nova Scotia (NSRJ), also in its twelfth year, which is now showing “promising results in schools and communities through a vibrant partnership between government and the community”. Jennifer Llewellyn, Director of the Nova Scotia Restorative Justice Community University Research Alliance (NSRJ-CURA), explains that an integrated approach to all youth crime requires a collaborative approach in which government resources can sustain a network of community-based agencies. “This model is one of the core strengths of the success of our program,” according to Llewellyn.

The foundation of this model is a positive, collaborative relationship between community stakeholders and government stakeholders. Building this relationship is a requirement for success. The remainder of this article will 1) provide an overview of BCRJP’s programming to show how its internal menu of comprehensive services enriches the county’s broader continuum of comprehensive services, and 2) demonstrate how BCRJP programming yields many outcome-based benefits that reinforce its ongoing partnership with government agencies, including schools. Finally, the effectiveness of restorative models will be viewed in sympathetic relation to the recommended evidence-based programming presented in the recent Georgetown University study of effective juvenile justice programs.

Citations omitted. 

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