Baltimore police arrested about 200 people, at least 20 of them juveniles, in the wake of the rioting and looting that took place in Baltimore on Monday. On Tuesday, Baltimore Deputy Public Defender Natalie Finegar told the Baltimore Sun that the arrests had created a bit of a judicial logjam.
Hopefully, somebody at the police department and/or the state’s attorney’s office remembers that Charm City has the perfect program to handle this situation.
The Community Conferencing Center, a restorative justice solutions provider in Baltimore, has quietly produced stunning results in the city’s schools and streets. Click here to read a bit more about conferencing, and a program doing similar work in Oakland, Calif.
How it works in a nutshell: conferences are arranged with young people in trouble with the law or at school, the people who are impacted by their actions, and people supporting both groups. CCC staff facilitate a discussion amongst the participants that culminates in an agreed-upon way for the youth to make amends.
Between 2009 and 2014, CCC participants re-offended 60 percent less than a comparable sample of youths. Those results have piqued the interest of juvenile justice systems in New York, Louisiana and other Maryland counties, all of which have contracted with CCC to help implement the CCC model.
“We should absolutely should be seen as a way to handle this and acknowledge this,” said CCC founder and Executive Director Lauren Abramson. [You’ll have to take YSI’s word for it: We came up with the thesis of this column and called her, not the other way around.]
She said since most of the youths were arrested for basically the same incident or set of incidents, “we could do them in small groups. We’d go out and shake the tree a bit, see who was really affected by what happened and get them in the circle.”
Possible participants that she mentioned: store owners and employees, protest organizers and, yes, members of the Baltimore Police Department.
So far nobody has reached out, says Abramson, although she noted that the organization has developed a strong working relationship with the state’s attorney’s office.
Here’s hoping the city remembers the valuable resource it has in its own backyard.
Youth Services Insider is mostly written by Chronicle Editor John Kelly.