Written by 12th grade student, Samantha Currier
“Crime is a Wound… Justice Should Be Healing.”
In the state of Virginia, there is a system that allows criminal children to be put back onto the right path. This system is called Restorative Justice. Restorative Justice is a way of allowing a juvenile to understand the consequences of their mistakes and make up for it by helping both the victims, as well as themselves in a healthy and organized environment. Not only does the individual [juvenile] benefit from this process, but the community does as well.
If a young male, Alex for example, broke into a house to steal jewelry in order to pay for the illegal drug marijuana and he was arrested, a court system without Restorative Justice would charge him with a possible misdemeanor which could mean up to a year in jail for Alex. This is a year without a proper education, his family, and the support from a community that has now written him off as a lost cause. This is a year spent in an institution that could cause severe depression and many other side effects that could mentally and even physically scar this juvenile for the rest of his life.
With Restorative Justice, Alex could be placed into this system in order to understand what he did and how it affected the family living in the house he broke into. In a restorative meeting, Alex could meet with the family, the police officer(s) that arrested him, the friends of the family and maybe a few more people that were directly or indirectly involved with the crime. There will be a discussion about how the family was affected and how it made them feel. It will also give the family closure to understand what was going on in this young man’s life and why he did what he did. The family will also get a chance to decide how Alex can repair the harm done. For Alex, he will apologize to the family and accept the responsibility for his actions. He will also have a say in how the harm he had done should be repaired. Alex will begin to restore trust with his community and his loved ones.
Restorative Justice will benefit the community by lowering expenses in jails, and allowing the community to put more effort into getting their juveniles back onto the streets as successful members of society. In Fauquier County, there is no juvenile detention center, so by trying young adults as adults and putting them into jails, precious resources are being used on juveniles that could, instead, be helped and put back onto the streets. The community would be better off using this program to save money, resources such as food and water, space for adult repeating offenders that are no longer able to use the restorative process, and also helping juveniles to understand what they have done wrong so that way they do not repeat their crimes. Restorative Justice is a very beneficial program that could help not just the community, or just the state, but this program could help the entire country to become a more wholesome and safe place to live.
Author, Samantha Currier
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