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Restorative Justice and the Youth Court System

age from WS Police


by Kit Ramgopal

- on 01/03/2014

The i ea that an offen er of the la! o"ght to be #" ge by a co"rt of their peer$ i$ the i ea !hich efine$ %&o"th 'o"rt( a legal bo y con$i$ting of $t" ent$ of the Senior Secon ary an 'ollegiate le)el age range to !hich I ha)e belonge to for three year$* &o"th 'o"rt i$ a+in to any other co"rt of la! in $tr"ct"re an e,ec"tione,cept for the fact that e)eryone !ho parta+e$ in co"rt procee ing$ i$ in the 14-1. age range* When $omeone "n erage i$ fo"n g"ilty of a crimethey are ta+en for $entencing before a #"ry of their peer$- efen e by a team of their peer$- an pro$ec"te by a team of their peer$- in a co"rt !hich i$ o)er$een by a #" ge- !ho- in a ition- i$ "$"ally 1/ or 1. year$ ol * Sentencing i$ ba$e on the principle of re$torati)e #"$tice- !hich i$ a theory of #"$tice that empha$i0e$ the nee of the !rong oer to repair the harm ca"$e by hi$/her criminal beha)ior* Thi$ $y$tem a)oi $ p"ni$hment for p"ni$hment1$ $a+e an in$tea $ee+$ re$tit"tion an impro)ement- both per$onally an in term$ of the comm"nity* &o"th 'o"rt i$ a bo y recogni0e by the $tate a$ an official co"rt of la! an i$ ingraine in the 2e! &or+ State legal $y$tem a$ a c"$tomary mea$"re for i$cipline* 3e$pite it$ eccentricitie$- &o"th 'o"rt i$ reno!ne a$ one of the mo$t effecti)e $y$tem$ of #"$tice employe for yo"ng people- !ith a la" able reci i)i$m rate of 45* Thi$ i$ an e$pecially goo in icator of $"cce$$ !hen one note$ that yo"th

offen er$ are $tati$tically pro)en to re)ert bac+ to crime after recei)ing con$e6"ence$ at a rate triple that of a "lt offen er$* The Youth Court System in Detail The participator$ in &o"th 'o"rt are all of $chool age* &o"th 'o"rt member$ ma+e "p the #"ry- the pro$ec"ting attorney$- the efen$e attorney$- the bailiff- the cler+- an the #" ge* 7ll &o"th 'o"rt member$ go thro"gh e,ten$i)e training to en$"re that legal procee ing$ are fair an effecti)e* 8or e,ample- my co"nty1$ &o"th 'o"rt meet$ e)ery 9on ay for an ho"r* We are $plit into fir$t year &o"th 'o"rt member$- !ho are ta"ght the ba$ic$ of la! an the co"rt $y$tem- an the more $enior member$- !ho !or+ !ith profe$$ional la!yer$ on the finer point$ of la! an ebate* The pro$ec"ting an efen$e attorney$ are han -$electe for each ca$e by the &o"th 'o"rt a )i$or$ on the ba$i$ of talent- "n er$tan ing of la!- p"blic $pea+ing ability- an e,perience an p"t to !or+ on their po$ition in a team of three* :eca"$e of the$e re6"irement$- they are generally $electe from the more e,perience $ection* 9o$t beginning &o"th 'o"rt member$ $tart o"t on the #"ry* Thi$ pro)i e$ incoming member$ an initial $en$e of &o"th 'o"rt procee ing$ !hich they o"ght to ha)e before they mo)e behin the table$ a$ la!yer$* The #" ge i$ "$"ally a $enior member of &o"th 'o"rt !ho ma+e$ #" gement$ on ob#ection$ an irect$ the co"rt a$ nee e * The &o"th 'o"rt $y$tem eal$ primarily in mi$ emeanor$ an the $ofter felonie$* The type$ of offen$e$ accepte for trial )arie$ among ifferent &o"th 'o"rt$ aro"n the ;nite State$ an i$ e,hibite by the chart belo!!hich can be fo"n !eb$ite for the %2ational 7$$ociation of &o"th 'o"rt$*( Type of Offense Percent of Youth Courts that Accept This Type of Offense Theft 91% Vandalism Alcohol Disorderly Conduct Assault Possession of Marijuana To!acco Curfe# Violations $chool Disci%linary 76% 73% 73% 67% 6 % "9% " % &"%

Truancy Tres%assin' Criminal Mischief Possession of Dru' Para%hernalia *ther Dru' *ffenses +arassment

39% 3(% 3 % )&%

) % )1%

,raud (% The %re$pon ent-( a$ the g"ilty party i$ referre to in the &o"th 'o"rt $y$tem- i$ e$ignate g"ilty before he or $he i$ $ent to &o"th 'o"rt- either by a tra itional co"rt- $chool i$ciplinarian- or $omething of the li+e* :eca"$e of thi$- the efen$e attorney$ an pro$ec"ting attorney$ are not arg"ing the g"ilt of the re$pon ent- b"t the egree of $entencing re6"ire to pay bac+ the )ictim$ of the crime- an arg"ment "$"ally ba$e aro"n factor$ $"ch a$ the re$pon ent1$ moti)ation$- the magnit" e of the crimean the circ"m$tance$ "n er !hich it !a$ committe * The co"rt procee ing$ go on a$ any co"rt procee ing$ !o"l * The #"ry i$ bro"ght into the co"rtroom an 6"e$tione to en$"re that no one on the #"ry hol $ a bia$ one !ay or another concerning the ca$e or tho$e in)ol)e * If any $o"rce of bia$ i$ fo"n - the #"ror i$ remo)e from the ca$e* 8rom there- the pro$ec"ting attorney$ an efen$e attorney$ pre$ent their opening $tatement$ before mo)ing to the irect an cro$$ e,amination- !hichagain- procee li+e the 6"e$tioning in any other co"rt of la!* The efen$e !itne$$e$ are generally the re$pon ent- the parent$ of the re$pon ent- an any rele)ant $o"rce !ho may !i$h to te$tify* The pro$ec"tion !itne$$e$ may con$i$t of the )ictim of the crime- $ho"l they !i$h to come before the co"rt- or a police officer !ho han le the ca$e* The clo$ing $tatement$ are gi)en- "ring !hich $entence$ are propo$e by both team$- !ith the pro$ec"ting team a )ocating a to"gher $entence an the efen$e team a )ocating a le$$er one* The #"ry eliberate$ a me i"m bet!een the t!o $entence$ in a $eparate room an eci e$ on the final epo$ition- !hich i$ rea to the co"rt* The epo$ition i$ rea to the co"rt an the re$pon ent m"$t carry o"t the pro)i$ion$ of the $entence or ri$+ being $ent bac+ to a "lt co"rt for a m"ch har$her one* ;nli+e normal co"rt procee ing$- &o"th 'o"rt i$ $trictly confi ential* 7ll phone$ an po$$ible recor ing e)ice$ are collecte "pon entrance to the co"rtroom- the procee ing$ are clo$e to the p"blic- an each &o"th 'o"rt member$ $ign$ a $trict confi entiality

agreement in !hich they agree to +eep the i entitie$ an etail$ of each ca$e $ecret* If any member brea+$ thi$ confi entiality agreement- they are thro!n o"t of &o"th 'o"rt* Restorative Justice in Youth Court In eliberating a $entence- the #"ry con$i er$ the ba$ic principle$ of re$torati)e #"$tice- !hich a$+$ t!o 6"e$tion$* 1* Who !ere the )ictim$ of the crime< 2* =o! can the re$pon ent effecti)ely pay bac+ the )ictim$ for hi$/her amage< Re$torati)e #"$tice i$ a theory that hol $ that there are no )ictimle$$ crime$* In the certain type$ of crime- the )ictim i$ ea$ily name > the )ictim of a robbery- the o!ner of a )an ali0e ho"$e- or the a$$a"lt )ictim in a fight* ?n the other han - $ome people arg"e that certain ifferent type$ of crime $"ch a$ r"g po$$e$$ion an i$or erly con "ct ha)e no )ictim$* To that- proponent$ of re$torati)e #"$tice !o"l re$pon that in e)ery crimethe comm"nity i$ a )ictim* The logic behin thi$ i$ that e)ery time $omeone commit$ a crime- it amage$ the efficacy an nat"re of the comm"nity* The la! official$ an police official$ !ho $pent their time bringing #"$tice to a certain in i)i "al !ere con$e6"ently remo)e from other "tie$ that may ha)e nee e to be f"lfille an !hich ta,payer$ pay them to f"lfill* 7l$o- in e)ery crime- the family of the re$pon ent i$ con$i ere a )ictim- a$ they $"ffer from the negati)e aftermath of their $on or a"ghter1$ action$ along$i e them- a$ the re$pon ent$ are al!ay$ "n erage* 7ccor ing to Re$torati)e @"$tice- &o"th 'o"rt al$o nee $ to be repai a$ a )ictimbeca"$e the co"rt e icate it$ time an re$o"rce$ to try the crime in 6"e$tion* 8or e,ample- I once trie a ca$e !here a fo"rteen year ol girl !a$ ca"ght rin+ing n $chool* In that crime- !e i entifie the $chool- the comm"nity- her parent$- an &o"th 'o"rt a$ the )ictim$* 7fter one ha$ i entifie the )ictim$- they m"$t then foc"$ on ho! the all of the )ictim$ can be compen$ate in t"rn* The mo$t pop"lar element$ in)ol)e in the a)erage $entence in my local yo"th co"rt are comm"nity $er)ice- oral/!ritten apologie$- e "cational !or+$hop$- co"n$eling- #"ry "ty- an #ail to"r$* The follo!ing chart map$ the $tati$tic$ on the mo$t common a$pect$ in $entencing among national yo"th co"rt$* Sentencing % of Youth Courts Which Option Emp oy This Sentencing Option Community 99% $er-ice *ral./ritten A%olo'ies 9&%

0ssays 0ducational /or1sho%s 2ury Duty 3estitution Alcohol.Dru' Assessment Curfe# Tutorin' Counselin' Dru' Testin' Victim A#areness Classes Peer Mediation 2ail Tour *!ser-e Teen Court Mentorin'

9)% 73% 73% 61% "7% &6% 37% 37% 31% )9%

)3% ))% 1&% 13%

$us%end Dri-ers 9% 4icense 'omm"nity $er)ice i$ a$$igne a$ part of e)ery $entence in )arying amo"nt$- beca"$e e)ery crime )ictimi0e$ the comm"nity* The ho"r$ nece$$ary are eci e after analy0ation of the magnit" e of the crime* 7 pro$ec"ting attorney may arg"e that the re$pon ent committe the crime malicio"$ly- that the crime too+ a lot of effort to reme iate- an ho! the crime ha a $ignificant negati)e impact on the comm"nity* ?n tho$e gro"n $- they recommen that the re$pon ent log fifty ho"r$ of comm"nity $er)ice to ma+e "p for their action$* 7 efen$e attorney- on the other han may arg"e that the re$pon ent only nee $ to perform 20 ho"r$ of comm"nity $er)ice* In arg"ing thi$- they may imply that the crime too+ little effort to reme iate- that $"ch action$ !ere an irreg"larity on the part of the re$pon ent- an that the crime ha fe! $ignificant negati)e reperc"$$ion$ on the comm"nity* The #"ry $ynthe$i0e$ the$e t!o arg"ment$ an may eci e- if both $i e$ are e6"ally con)incing- to a$$ign 34 ho"r$* In any gi)en ca$e- they !a)er on a $pectr"m bet!een the t!o pole$ pro)i e by the attorney team$- an fin their $tan ing !ithin it epen ing on the relati)e

potency of each arg"ment* Parent$ an )ictim$ "$"ally recei)e an oral or !ritten apology an the re$pon ent i$ often $entence to $er)e one time a$ a #"ry member for a $eparate ca$e to pay bac+ &o"th 'o"rt* 8rom there- the #"ry ta+e$ pre)entati)e an reformati)e mea$"re$ to help the re$pon ent in the f"t"re* I mentione pre)io"$ly a ca$e !here a girl !a$ reprehen e for rin+ing in $chool* Thi$ girl ha a iffic"lt home life a$ !ell a$ a !ell oc"mente ten ency to act o"t* 7$ a reformati)e mea$"re$- !e $entence her to atten a !ee+en $eminar on the negati)e effect$ of r"g$ an alcohol on teen$- a c"rfe! of ele)en o1cloc+- an co"n$eling* Value of Youth Court as an Institution &o"th 'o"rt ha$ not only become a corner$tone of the 2e! &or+ State #"$tice $y$tem- b"t a efining factor in o"r local comm"nity* &o"th co"rt program$ n"rt"re re$pect for the r"le of la! at a yo"ng age- help e)elop attit" e$ of po$iti)e citi0en$hip- enco"rage comm"nity engagement an promote e "cational $"cce$$ by pro)i ing "ni6"e opport"nitie$ to c"lti)ate $+ill$ in p"blic $pea+ing- la!- ebate- an morality* The $y$tem pro)i e$ $anction$ for yo"ng offen er$ by pro)i ing Re$torati)e @"$tice a$ a mechani$m !hich force$ yo"ng people to be hel acco"ntable for their action$ !hile pro)i ing a path!ay for greater po$iti)e ci)ic engagement an $elf impro)ement* The employment of po$iti)e peer pre$$"re a$ a moti)ating factor for per$onal change i$ an often "n er"$e moti)ating tool !hich can yiel ama0ing re$"lt$* 8or yo"ng people- being tol yo" are in the !rong by yo"r peer$ i$ often more po!erf"l than being tol the $ame by yo"r el er$* In fact- the $y$tem ha$ often tran$forme re$pon ent$ $o effecti)ely that- after $er)ing their $entence of #"ry "ty- they them$el)e$ #oin &o"th 'o"rt an "n ergo training to become a la!yer* &o"th 'o"rt al$o i$ tran$formati)e for member$ of the a$$ociation* When I entere &o"th 'o"rt- I ha $ignificant legal +no!le ge an $ome $+ill in per$"a$i)e !riting- yet I !a$ terrifie of p"blic $pea+ing an con$i$tently afrai of )oicing my opinion$ o"t of fear of reb"ttal* 9y bigge$t challenge !a$ my lac+ of confi ence- an I !a$ not alone in thi$ $entiment* =o!e)erthe &o"th 'o"rt I am a part of ha$ $e)eral e,cellent )ol"nteer attorney$ !ho coach "$ to!ar $ !hate)er in i)i "al goal$ !e ha)e- !hether it$ to ma+e a clo$ing arg"ment for the fir$t time or #"$t to "n er$tan co"rt proce "re* Three year$ later- I1)e not only gaine confi ence in p"blic $pea+ing- b"t I gen"inely en#oy ebating- an am con$i$tently a$+e to pre$ent the clo$ing an opening arg"ment$* S"ch i$ the effect of &o"th 'o"rt on tho$e !ho "$e it a$ an e "cational o"tp"t* &o"th 'o"rt al$o create$ a comm"nity !ithin o"r co"nty* Thro"gh &o"th 'o"rt- I1)e ma e frien $ from to!n$ all o)er my area !ho $hare $imilar intere$t$* The program i$ a place for intellect"al e,ploration- for frien $hip- an for #"$tice that $ee+$ to in$till not only a $en$e of the legal proce$$- b"t a $en$e of morality a$ !ell* 2at"rally- an organi0ation $"ch a$ &o"th 'o"rt face$ $e)eral ob)io"$

challenge$* ?ne ob#ection to the $y$tem relate$ to !hether or not the po!er of the la! $ho"l be place in the han $ of people $o yo"ng* It i$ tr"e> &o"th 'o"rt place$ the enormo"$ re$pon$ibility on $chool age chil renre$pon$ibility !hich i$ contingent "pon mat"rity an integrity* &et- in my e,perience- !hen yo" gi)e teenager$ $pace to $tep "p to the plate to meet a challenge !ith "ni)er$ally ac+no!le ge !orth an con$e6"ence$- they con$i$tently perform an e)en e,cee e,pectation$*The )oice$ of chil ren are $ho!n time an time again to affect the comm"nity eeply- an &o"th 'o"rt i$ $imply an organi0ation !hich channel$ tho$e )oice$ an the integrity they carry into the #"$tice $y$tem* 7nother challenge i$ that general e "cation $y$tem$ often lac+ the concentrate legal training !hich i$ re6"ire to be $"cce$$f"l in co"rt an that all offen er$ e$er)e in an attorney* To reme y thi$- comm"nity participation i$ nece$$ary* In my &o"th 'o"rt- !e ha)e )ol"nteer la!yer$ an #" ge$ come in an e "cate "$ on the legal $y$tem* We prepare thro"gh moc+ trial$ an by !atching an follo!ing real life ca$e$ on the ne!$* In a ition- $itting on the #"ry pro)i e$ $ome of the be$t e "cation on ho! to be $"cce$$f"l in the co"rtroom- a$- at lea$t in my e,perience- $t" ent$ learn mo$t effecti)ely by !atching their peer$* 7fter training- $t" ent$ are more than e6"ippe to $tep "p to the po i"m a$ an attorney* Restorative Justice Ideology Re$torati)e @"$tice i$ a creati)e an progre$$i)e legal theory !hich ta+e$ into acco"nt the )ery per$onal nat"re of crime in a !ay that tra itional #"$tice often lac+$* ;nli+e a tra itional $y$tem of %crime an p"ni$hment-( Re$torati)e @"$tice $ee+$ to ta+e the negati)e $it"ation create by a crime an "$e the #"$tice $y$tem to create an en !hich heal$ the negati)e $it"ation an mo)e$ to!ar $ a po$iti)e one* It i$ ba$e on the principle of retrib"tion an $ee+$ to ma+e "p for the harm the crime ha$ ca"$e the )ictim$* The theory al$o $ee$ a crime in the !hole of it$ $ocial conte,t an trie$ to "n er$tan it$ comple, relation$hip$ to other component$* It promote$ fle,ibility- creati)ity- an a for!ar !ay of thin+ing* ?ne $i0e oe$ not fit all !hen it come$ to the $y$tem of #"$tice* A)ery crime i$ ifferente)ery offen er i$ ifferent- e)ery comm"nity i$ ifferent an all of the )ariation$ re6"ire the $entence to be tailore accor ingly* Thi$ iffer$ from the !i e$prea $y$tem of Retrib"ti)e @"$tice- !hereby an in i)i "al commit$ a crime an then i$ $"b#ect to hi$ or her per$onal con$e6"ence of #ail time- a fee- or $omething el$e in that general realm* In the tra itional $y$tem- there i$ le$$ foc"$ on the )ictim1$ re$tit"tion* The )ictim in a tra itional $y$tem get$ hi$ or her relief from !atching the offen er be p"ni$he an thin+ing that he or $he got !hat they e$er)e * In thi$ $it"ation- there i$ no po$iti)e relief to the comm"nity- b"t rather a progre$$ion of the ancient $pitef"l %eye for an eye( $entiment !hich $ay$ %&o" h"rt me- $o I can p"ni$h yo"*( Re$torati)e @"$tice e,i$t$ on the

$ignificantly more plea$ant fo"n ation !hich $ay$ %&o" h"rt me- $o no! yo" m"$t help me*( Thi$ !ay- the )ictim i$ repai for the amage$ ca"$e to them- an the tran$gre$$or $pen $ the time that co"l ha)e been !a$te on a p"ni$hment !ith no beneficiary trying to repay the amage$ he or $he ha$ ca"$e - thro"gh comm"nity $er)ice- apologie$- per$onal betterment an recon$tr"cti)e !or+* In oing thi$- they better "n er$tan the reperc"$$ion$ of their crime on per$onal an comm"nity le)el$* S"ch !or+ ca"$e$ per$onal intro$pection an fo$ter$ a character change that in$till$ a $en$e of integrity eeper than that in$tille by any threat of #ail time e)er co"l * When e)al"ating the $hortcoming$ an benefit$ of each $y$tem- one m"$t a$+ in con$i ering the )ictim1$ po$itionB !hat oe$ anyone gain from placing their neighbor in a #ail cell- be$i e$ the col thrill of )engeance !hich $tim"late$ the )ery hatre !hich gi)e$ birth to $o many crime$< =o! !ill that ma+e anything better< The Retrib"ti)e @"$tice $y$tem al$o place$ the )ictim$ at the mercy of a #" icial $y$tem* Thi$ i$ e$pecially ina e6"ate in highly per$onal crime$* If the pro$ec"tion fail$- the )ictim i$ f"rther )ictimi0e an h"miliate * A)en if the pro$ec"tion $"ccee $- the )ictim $till ha$ no per$onal $ay a$ to the co"r$e of action- an the gr"eling litigation of co"rt procee ing$ often "n ermine$ their healing proce$$* Re$torati)e @"$tice- on the other han - fo$ter$ )ictim empo!erment an inp"t in fin ing a $entence* In e$$ence- Re$torati)e @"$tice i$ a form of me iation that aim$ to reconcile the ten$ion$ bet!een offen er$- )ictim$ an comm"nity- contra$ting on that front !ith Retrib"ti)e @"$tice- !hich merely p"ni$he$ the offen er$* Re$torati)e @"$tice h"mani0e$ the $y$tem of p"niti)e #"$tice an place$ empha$i$ on an i eal !here ab"$er$ of the la! accept re$pon$ibility for their action$ an ma+e amen $- in t"rn creating a le)el of a )ancement in their o!n rehabilitation* Sri Can+a i$ a co"ntry reco)ering from the bloo ie$t ci)il !ar in it$ hi$tory* 2at"rally crime$ an ten$ion$ are left in high concentration after $"ch a conflict* &et- before one #"mp$ to p"ni$h tho$e criminal$ !ho mo$t certainly e$er)e the con$e6"ence$- it i$ nece$$ary to thin+ in the $pirit of Re$torati)e @"$tice an e)al"ate the comple,itie$ of the offen$e$- partic"larly tho$e comple,itie$ pertaining to the comm"nity* Sri Can+a1$ c"lt"ral an ethnic intricacie$ are not embo ie in any co e of la!yet are $o pre)alent a$ moti)ation$ an $etting$ in crime that they ren er the c"rrent #"$tice $y$tem incompetent in a myria of ca$e$* 7nger an hatre are born from any $erio"$ crime- an it i$ h"man nat"re to !ant criminal$ bro"ght before #"$tice in the $pirit of retaliation* The problem !ith retaliation in a reco)ering co"ntry i$ that it promote$ more "nhappine$$ in a co"ntry that ha$ no o"bt e,perience it$ fair $hare* The i eal$ of reconciliation- recon$tr"ction- an me iation are a$$ociate not only !ith Re$torati)e @"$tice- b"t peace* It pro)i e$ the )ictim$ !ith

concrete retrib"tion an pa)e$ the !ay for tolerance- !hile ingraining a $en$e of comm"nity an in$ight into the offen er* 'a$e$ relating to !ar crime$- crime$ ealing !ith religio"$ an ethnic i$$"e$- an crime$ !hich affect !ar-$tric+en comm"nitie$ are e,emplar beneficiarie$ of the con$tr"cti)e i eal$ of Re$torati)e @"$tice- !hich ha)e the ability to fo$ter tolerance in !ay that the i eal$ of Retrib"ti)e @"$tice lac+* Re$torati)e @"$tice ha$ al$o pro)en effecti)e in ca$e$ ealing !ith $e,"al )iolence- a$ it pro)i e$ fle,ibility to eal !ith the ob)io"$ly comple, relation$hip$ bet!een )ictim$ an criminal$* Re$torati)e #"$tice lea $ to con$tr"cti)e reb"il ing of comm"nitie$ an the healing of emotional an phy$ical !o"n $ ca"$e by crime* If Sri Can+a !ant$ to bring "e #"$tice to criminal$ !hile fo$tering long-la$ting peace an a pro$pero"$ $tate- Re$torati)e @"$tice ill"$trate$ a plethora of progre$$i)e i eal$ !hich may be pro "cti)e to ra! "pon*

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