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Implementing Balanced and Restorative Justice: The Illinois Experience

Ashley, Jessica
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) Children’s Legal Rights Journal. 24(2): 23-36.

Restorative justice models that adopt alternative ways of dealing with criminal offenders are flourishing around the country. BARJ is a restorative justice model that offers an alternative to the formal juvenile justice system. BARJ is based on the view that crime is harm against individuals and communities, rather than harm against the State. The principles of restorative justice are reviewed, which strive to balance the needs of the victim and the community with the needs and punishment of the offender. The BARJ model, in particular, is based on the need for offenders to take accountability for their actions and to repair the harms they have caused. The Illinois Juvenile Justice Reform Act in 1999 signaled the official adoption of the BARJ philosophy in the Illinois juvenile justice system. The judicial background leading to the adoption of the BARJ philosophy in Illinois is considered, followed by a description of the Illinois BARJ planning process and the various BARJ programs and practices operating in Illinois. Nationally, approximately 29 States employ BARJ or restorative justice practices in their juvenile justice systems; Pennsylvania’s system-based approach and Colorado’s community-based approach are described. BARJ and other restorative justice processes finally have the ability to meet the needs of the justice system’s primary consumer: the communities that experience crime. Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service,


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