Friday, April 25, 2008
Teens in Bog incident seek restorative justice program
The ten teenagers detained by police after an attempted drinking party at the Cranberry Bog on April 11 (see Mosquito, April 10, page 1) have been referred to Communities for Restorative Justice (C4RJ) by the Carlisle Police Department. According to Police Chief John Sullivan, they will probably elect to work through their conflict with the law through a Restorative Justice Circle. Jennifer Larson-Sawin, executive director at the Concord Restorative Justice office, indicates that staffing for a circle is being organized at this time.
C4RJ – an elective program
C4RJ is an alternative to the juvenile court system for juveniles who have broken the law and are being charged by the police. (see Mosquito, January 11, 2008); it is completely voluntary. In this case Sullivan referred each of the ten to the program and met with the parents of the offenders to acquaint them with C4RJ and obtain their consent to a C4RJ referral. Each teen and parents will meet individually with the C4RJ staff to discuss the program. If they choose to participate, the matter will proceed to a Restorative Circle and the police record and police charges will be dropped; if they decline to participate, the matter reverts to police jurisdiction.
Larson-Sawin said an intake meeting will be held when her office has staffed the case. There is no specific time frame for a Restorative Circle, but she indicates the process usually takes about three months. In this case she anticipates ten separate circles.
A community commitment
The sheer number of individuals and large number of hours of participation needed to achieve conflict resolution through the C4RJ process is little short of staggering. The juvenile, the juvenile’s parents (each with their own advocate), a police representative, a ConsCom representative because the Cranberry Bog is under ConsCom jurisdiction, school representatives if the school is involved through suspension or other disciplinary action, and other persons that may be requested by any of the participants create the Circle. They meet until the problem has been discussed thoroughly enough for all the participants to agree on what will be done and when it will be done. The entire group then meets again to follow up to be sure the matter has been successfully concluded. Since ten Circles will be needed to handle the ten juveniles, the magnitude of this effort is enormous.
Because C4RJ is entirely confidential it is expected that there will be no further coverage in the Mosquito. Residents who are interested will have to be reassured by Larson-Sawin’s statement that C4RJ is “holding them accountable in a constructive way.” ∆
© 2008 The