A Brave New Approach to Justice for Youth

300x300Socially conscious documentary film production company A Brave New Films recently released the first installment of its Restorative Justice Series. With over 8,000 children in California juvenile probation facilities, restorative justice has emerged as a more compassionate, more successful, and more cost-effective alternative to the punitive justice system currently failing our nation’s youths.

Centinela Youth Services’ Everychild Restorative Justice Center, based in California, has taken up the mantle as a leader in restorative justice in a sea of programs that RJ Fim Photo
take in troubled youth wholesale, lock them up without proper services, for them to enter the system again and again. According to the short film, “juveniles who were locked up are 60% more likely to re-offend within three years.”

“Restorative Justice is an alternative to a punitive program where you lock kids up,” Jacqueline Caster, President of the Everychild Foundation and principal funder of CYS, says.

The film shows that CYS has had tremendous success in diverting children out of a life of crime. Programs such as victim-offender mediation are intended to ease suffering. As a result CYS as produced recidivism rates as low as 8-11% whereas the traditional punitive system produces a 30% recidivism rate for youth. The cost differences are also stark with CYS spending around $4,000 per child per year versus $230,000 for children in the juvenile probation system.

With over 1,200 children who have been diverted from juvenile halls at a 98% victim satisfaction rate, Brave New Films and Centinela Youth Services make a strong case against an expensive system with little positive results.

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Jeremy Loudenback, Senior Editor, The Chronicle of Social Change
About Jeremy Loudenback, Senior Editor, The Chronicle of Social Change 341 Articles
Jeremy is a West Coast-based senior editor for The Chronicle of Social Change. Reach him at jeremyloudenback@chronicleofsocialchange.org.