Restoring Youth: Creative Courts & Caring Communities
Restorative Community Service
Community Service is done restoratively when each youth sees their service as:
• a personal obligation, not a punishment.
• an opportunity to make right, even if only symbolically, the wrong they have done.
• work that is valued by victims and/or the community.
In addition to holding youth accountable for their offenses, Restorative Community Service provides them with the opportunity to be integrated into the community as people capable of making a positive contribution. This integration creates change in both the offender and the community.
Perhaps most important, many juvenile-justice professionals, particularly in youth courts, have seen a correlation between effective community service, heightened civic awareness, and reduced recidivism rates.
While a community service experience may be limited in time, the value it has in holding offenders meaningfully accountable and in communicating to them that they can be positive members of the community should not be underestimated.
Youth Restorative Community Service Goals and Objectives
Youth offenders will be able to:
- Learn about their community and its people, processes, and institutions
- Understand the impact of their actions on others.
- Form meaningful working relationships with community groups and individuals.
- Learn that individual rights and freedoms are balanced by responsibilities.
- Understand the value of service for the good of themselves and the community
- Develop critical-thinking, citizenship, and problem-solving skills.
- Address real community needs.
- Recognize the need for involvement and the characteristics and actions of a participating citizen.
- Develop a personal stake in the well-being of their communities.
- Gain a sense of their own effectiveness.
- Give back to victims and the community.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Crucial to making community service restorative is preparation. Community members and organizations are provided information and support from Piedmont Mediation. This enables them to take on an active partnership role working with juvenile offenders on community initiated projects.
Offenders are prepared through intentional conversations with our Restorative Justice staff. Staff help offenders to understand their community service as both a personal obligation and an opportunity to make amends for harms done.
With the support of our Restorative Community Service Coordinator, community groups identify meaningful projects where juvenile offenders work in partnership with other youth and community members.
Community organizations help by providing these opportunities. They also provide the personal contacts and relationships (i.e. mentoring and role modeling) that are the crucial difference in making community service truly restorative.
HOW CAN YOUR BUSINESS HELP?
Provide a project, large or small, where appropriate young offenders may work along side other volunteer community members to accomplish a meaningful task. When you can, work alongside a young offender, not as a supervisor or boss, but as a community coworker.
Engage them in conversation, work with them, and encourage and commend good work. Give of yourself. You are the greatest asset this community has to address crime in an effective and meaningful way. Holding offenders accountable, by having them contribute service of value, and thereby drawing these offenders into the fabric of the community, is one of our most effective long-term crime prevention responses. No one can do that job better than you, the people of Iredell County.