EDITOR: A recent article in The Times (front page, Feb. 25)
about Community Solutions dismissively referred to the
“so-called restorative justice program”.

A recent article in The Times (front page, Feb. 25) about Community Solutions dismissively referred to the “so-called restorative justice program”.

The Restorative Justice Program is a victim centered program which brings together the victim (ideally), the offender with family and the community for the purpose of responding to the harm caused by the offense. The youthful offender will help develop and will sign a contract lasting 12 weeks with the NAB (Neighborhood Advisory Board) members.

The contract will include several parameters, including compensation to the victim, letters of apology as necessary, random drug testing when appropriate, remedial classes given over an eight-week period and some period of community service. Upon successful completion of the contract, the offender is awarded a certificate of completion and any criminal record is erased. They can do this twice.

The Restorative Justice Program exists in some form currently in 45 states and some European countries. It is interesting to note that the concept may be uniquely American as it is based on Native North American culture.

I am one of several dozen community volunteers who serve as Neighborhood Advisory Board members of the Restorative Justice Program (Santa Clara County Probation Department). I have been doing this for only a year now, but I feel honored to work with each of my fellow volunteers. (We have all had to have a background check as well as training before we can work with the young adults).

The professionals with whom we work at Community Solutions are remarkable, highly motivated people with well-honed skills in what they do. They are all enthusiastic people whom I would have been delighted to work with, for, or have work for me in my 40 years in industry. They and the county probation officer are very smart, well-educated, hard-working individual and close to what’s going on with youth.

They each have my highest respect for the very important work they do. I don’t know what will happen if the Restorative Justice program suffers in the budget cutbacks. Youth will still get in trouble, some more seriously than others will. The current environment of non-tolerance in schools will still get law enforcement involved for a punch in the nose. Youth I have listened to at their graduation praise the program in anger management, which is a part of the remedial classes, required in such a case. Without that counseling, what happens on the next offense? Will there be a next offense?

Will these youth now have a criminal record affecting their future development? I have been told that currently, 85-88 percent of the youth who go through the program are never involved with the criminal justice system again. I think that’s a bargain!

It seems to me that money spent for the Restorative Justice Program is money well spent, if not critical.

Michael P Moore,

Volunteer NAB Participant,

Morgan Hill

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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