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The criminalization of black youth and the rise of restorative justice

Aug 19, 2014

from the article by Max Eternity in Truthout:

Among extrajudicial deaths at the hands of police and white vigilantes, the tragic stories of Travon Martin and Oscar Grant have garnered media attention, but are also highly contested narratives. Less talked about is the institutionalized climate of fear that has been normalized for brown-skinned youth - the daily domestic terror by police.

....[This] insidious institutional problem continues to unfold. We examine it in... an on-site interview with Chief Allen Nance - the chief probation officer of San Francisco's Juvenile Hall - on June 13, 2014.

....Is "restorative justice" incorporated into the work done here - if so, could you give an example?

AN: Sure, we have a project that we're currently working on with the district attorney's office and a not-for-profit, Community Works, which is based in Oakland but has offices here in San Francisco, where through an initiative with the National Council of Crime and Delinquency we've launched an initiative to divert young people from the juvenile justice system instead of traditional prosecution, if, in fact, they are willing to participate in a restorative justice program, which essentially brings the young person and the victim - the offended - together; to talk about the offense, to develop a plan to restore the victim, and to engage the young person in a plan to address the factors that led them to commit the offense in the first place.

One of the underpinnings of how we work with young people is in finding ways to develop more victim empathy, to develop a sense of understanding of how their conduct impacts their communities in which they live.

Is this done in group sessions, or one-on-one counseling - how is this done?

AN: Both. So, probation officers have been trained in motivational interviewing, which is an accepted technique to engage young people to engage some level of ambivalence around the criminal or self-destructive conduct that they're involved in, and to get them to a point where there is at least some degree of acknowledgement and readiness to embrace a strategy toward changing that behavior.

Read the whole article.

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