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Video Review: Achieving Balanced and Restorative Justice in Pennsylvania’s Juvenile justice System

This 23-minute video explores the principles and programmes of the Balanced and Restorative Justice initiative in the juvenile justice system in Pennsylvania.

Achieving Balanced and Restorative JusticeExecutive Producer: Andrew J De Angelo and Susan Blackburn.  Pennsylvania Council of Chief Juvenile Probation Officers. JPL productions. 2001.

Narrated by Emmanuel A. Cassimitas, senior judge York County, Achieving Balanced and Restorative Justice in Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System explores that state's juvenile justice innovations since 1995. With comments from probation officers, judges, court services personnel, victim advocates and restorative justice practitioners, the video explains the theory behind the shifts and highlights programmes putting that theory into practice.

In 1995, Pennsylvania changed the purpose clause of the Juvenile Justice Act to include meeting needs of victims and community members, as well as responding to crime. Referring to this “balanced attention” to stakeholders, personnel interviewed in the video refer to the three elements of Pennsylvania’s Balanced and Restorative Justice concept: community protection, victim restoration, and youth redemption. These were adopted from the national BARJ project which received federal funding for a number of years.

In implementing Balanced and Restorative Justice, the juvenile justice system affirms the potential of each young offender and the desire of many of them to make amends for their behaviour. This means providing community service options that allow young offenders to learn new skills while earning money to make restitution. Job skills training and mentoring programmes seek to help the young offenders reintegrate into the community. At the same time, victims have been given a voice concerning how their cases are dealt with in the system.

In illustrating the implementation of these concepts, the video provides a brief look at the following programmes:

  • Community Intensive Supervision in Allegheny County – provision of a broad range of services for young offenders
  • Community Justice on Wheels in Lehigh County –  school and home visits from probation officers
  • Youth Violence Reduction Programme in Philadelphia – several visits to young offenders in the community
  • Teen Enrichment through Advocacy at  Moravian in Lehigh County – youth mentoring programme
  • Lancaster Area Victim Offender Reconciliation Program in Lancaster County – face-to-face encounters allowing victims and young offenders develop restitution plans
  • Youth Aid Panels/ Community Justice Panels in Lancaster City – community members working with young offenders and their supporters to develop a plan for restitution and community supervision without a court appearance.

Achieving Balanced and Restorative Justice in Pennsylvania’s Juvenile justice System provides a good overview of the Balanced and Restorative Justice concept as it is implemented in the state of Pennsylvania. It is available in both VHS and DVD formats from the:

Center for Juvenile Justice Training and Research
Shippensburg University
1871 Old Main Drive
Horton Hall
Shippensburg, PA 17257
Phone: 717-477-1709

Lynette Parker

December 2007

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