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Youth accountability boards. How prosecutors are engaging communities to respond to low-level juvenile offending.

Lynch, Alexandra
June 4, 2015

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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