What We Do: Youth Restorative Practices Services
What is Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice is a term that encompasses any form of criminal justice that focuses on the rehabilitation of the offender through reconciliation with the community and/or victim(s). MCRC’s primary form of restorative justice is through the Restorative Practices Program, and is offered as a Restorative Reflection or a Restorative Dialogue. These processes allow a youth or youth participants an opportunity to reflect on their behavior(s) and action(s) in a structured conversation. Upon referral from one of our referring partners, MCRC conducts intake and screens the participants (the youth and parent(s) or guardian(s)), then sets up a session with two professionally trained volunteer facilitators. During the scheduled session, the youth reflects on the situation by answering Restorative Questions. In most cases, participants in Restorative Reflections and Restorative Dialogues leave the session with a greater understanding of the behavior(s) and action(s), themselves, and how these behaviors and actions affect others. Eighty-eight percent of participants agree that a session is invaluable.
MCRC’s Restorative Practices Services are selected by referral partners. These partners currently include the Department of Juvenile Services, the State Attorney’s Office, the Howard County Police Department’s Youth Services, and the Howard County Public School System. Depending upon the specific details concerning a case, MCRC may also provide our mediation services for these partners. For more information, see Re-entry Mediation and Parent-Teen Mediation services. MCRC’s Youth Restorative Practices Services currently include Restorative Reflections and Restorative Dialogues. MCRC also provides School-Circles, which are detailed on the School-Based Conflict Resolution page.
Restorative Reflection: A restorative reflection (RR) is a neutral, confidential, and voluntary process. It is an opportunity for a youth participant to be part of a guided discussion with two professionally trained volunteer restorative practices facilitators and their parent(s) or guardian(s). The conversation focuses on reflecting back to a behavior and/or actions that led to their referral to MCRC for Restorative services. The facilitators do not take sides, blame, or place punishment. They help guide a conversation which addresses the five Restorative Questions listed below. RRs are scheduled for a two-hour time-frame and are scheduled seven days a week, morning, afternoon, or evening.
Restorative Dialogue: A restorative dialogue (RD) is a neutral, confidential, voluntary process. It is an opportunity for more than one youth participants to be part of a guided discussion with two professionally trained volunteer restorative practices facilitators and both of the youths’ parent(s) and/or guardian(s). The dialogue among the youths and other participants focuses on reflecting back to the behaviors and actions of both of youths which led to the referral to MCRC for Restorative services. The facilitators do not take sides, blame, or place punishment. They help guide a conversation which addresses the five Restorative Questions, as well as additional victim/offender questions listed below (if applicable). RDs are scheduled for a two-hour time-frame and are schduled seven days a week, morning, afternoon, or evening.
Five Restorative Questions
1. What Happened?
2. What Were You Thinking At The Time?
3. What Have You Thought About Since?
4. Who Has Been Affected By What Has Been Done?
5. What Do You Need To Do To Make Things Right?
Additional Restorative Questions for Victim/Offender in RDs
1. What Did You Think When You Realized What Had Happened?
2. What Impact Has This Incident Had On You And Others?
3. What Has been The Hardest Thing For You?
4. What Do You Think Needs To Happen To Make Things Right?
MCRC, Inc. has a strong commitment to providing services for youth that encourage thoughtful consideration and accountability around their involvement in violations of codes of conduct and laws. Traditional methods of handling such violations include involvement with the courts and a juvenile record that may negatively effect a youth’s opportunities for employment and higher education opportunities. Allowing first-time juvenile offenders of low level crimes an opportunity to reflect upon and be accountable for such incidents rather than being led down the more formal trajectory of the juvenile justice system means fewer youth entering the school-to-prison pipeline described in the infographic below.
“The restorative reflection session gave me a chance to hear from my child and reevaluate how she is being taught to handle situations.”
“The facilitators were able to establish trust and create an environment that welcomed the flow of conversation.”
“My son felt comfortable during the RR session to speak his mind.”
“I liked the opportunity the process offered to turn what had been an unhappy experience into one holding lessons which will be helpful for a lifetime.”
“This process provided the opportunity for [our child] to open up and talk. We have tried alternatives and she never opened up like she did today.”
“The restorative reflection started off slow and it seemed stuck, but working through the “stuck” was essential to key learning.”
We HEAR…To HELP!
8:30 AM – 4:30 PM or by appointment
9770 Patuxent Woods Drive Suite 306
Columbia, MD 21046