Restorative Practices In the Juvenile Justice System


RESTORATIVE JUSTICE is a non-punitive approach that emphasizes accountability and resolution of an offense through dialogue with all impacted parties including the responsible youth.​

Restorative Justice is administered through a Restorative Community Conference (RCC). An RCC is a face to face problem solving meeting between people that were harmed, the people who caused that harm and community members. Led by trained and experienced RCC facilitators, the people in the RCC discuss the harm caused, ways to repair the harm as much as possible, and ways to prevent further harm. In the RCC, the responsible youth is held accountable for the offense. Together, the group creates an action plan for the youth to repair the harm to the person, the community, their family, and themselves. Once the youth fulfills the plan in a timely manner, charges are dismissed.

Our RCC program was born out of the centuries and centuries of native and indigenous ways of life passed through oral tradition. Without the passing down of this wisdom and these practices we would not have the tools we have today to intervene in this way for a young person at the crucial junction that we do when we are referred cases.​

Our current criminal justice system asks these three questions:  
1) What law was broken?
2) Who broke it?
3) What punishment is given?

RCC asks a different set of questions: 
1) Who was harmed?
2) What are the needs of all affected?
3) Whose obligation is it to meet those needs?

– Opportunity to take responsibility
– Creative plan to make things as right as possible for everyone
– Charges dismissed when plan is complete
– Access to community resources
– Support from community

– Satisfaction of explaining the impact of the crime
– Opportunity to have questions answered
– Input on how the youth can make things as right as possible
– Access to community resources
– Support from community

– Contribute to the safety and well-being of the community
– Opportunity to teach and support youth to successfully repair the harm
– Build community strength through relationships and knowledge

When a youth is arrested, collaborating partners determine if the case meets the qualifications for the restorative process. Once a case is referred, separate convening and preparation meetings commence with all impacted parties to explain the process and invite participation to the restorative conference. All participants meet for the restorative conference to talk about the harm, its impact, and develop an action plan.Follow up and support is given to the responsible youth to complete the action plan. The length of the process depends on the underlying needs of the impacted parties. Community referrals are welcome.

RESPONSIBLE YOUTH Age – 18 (17.5 date of the incident) & under
IDENTIFIABLE VICTIM Individual directly impacted by the incident
ZIP CODES Offense must occur or Responsible Youth / Person Harmed must reside within San Diego county zip codes.
CRIMINAL CHARGES Misdemeanor to felony -Theft -Burglary-Battery -Vandalism-Hit and Run-Assault-Criminal Threats

The action plan is an agreement made by the people in the RCC. It usually has four parts: efforts to make things as right as possible for the person harmed, the community, the youth’s family, and the youth themselves. Restitution, if applicable is usually addressed during this process. Community members are often listed in the action plan as key supporters for the youth. Each action is unique and created by the people in the RCC.

Yes, RCC is voluntary and everyone needs to participate in good faith for it to be successful. RCC requires that the youth that caused harm take responsibility for the harm and the desire to make it right. RCC requires that the person harmed be willing to collaborate to create a realistic plan for repairing the harm they suffered.

If the person harmed does not want to participate but wants the youth to have an RCC, the case can move forward. If the person harmed does not want the RCC to move forward, they have the right to request traditional court processing.

Because the action plan is created by the youth and community, the voluntary plan is nearly always completed. In some cases, when there is a change in circumstances that makes the process difficult to complete, the facilitator can help alter the plan with approval from the people in the RCC. If the youth chooses to not complete the action plan, the case is sent back to the referring agency for alternative action.

Persons that have been harmed have an opportunity to explain the impact of the youth’s offense, get important questions answered, and have input in the action plan to repair the harm caused. They are given an opportunity to use their strengths to repair the harm as much as possible. Through the support provided to the person harmed and the youth, community relationships are strengthened as people get to know one another during the RCC and during the action plan completion. The needs of the participants are identified and wrap-around community services are provided to the person harmed, the youth, and their families.


Community members that are interested in learning more about Restorative Justice  are invited to attend our RJ 101 workshop. The workshop will explain Restorative Justice, the “school to prison pipeline,” and different restorative tools that can be used to increase positive school and community relationships.  To request more information on Restorative Justice in the juvenile system, request a workshop for your organization, or a presentation send a detailed email to ​​.


To submit a referral or for specific questions on Restorative Justice or the Restorative Community Conferencing program contact Senior Program Manager Francisco Carbajal at​.

Want to Learn More About Restorative Practices?

For more information please contact Genevieve Quintard