The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, August 28, 2009

Youths corralled at three drinking parties

There was plenty of beer, but not enough time to crack it all open, before Carlisle police broke up three recent drinking parties. Pending charges for 26 youths, most of whom were 18, include: being a minor in possession of alcohol and, at two of the parties, for trespassing. Police have referred all 26 cases to the Communities for Restorative Justice program. Both charges will ultimately be dropped for the individuals who agree to participate and then complete the plan produced in the restorative justice circle.

The first party, held on August 2 on School Street, was interrupted when a member of the family returned home, found the house full of young people who were drinking, and called the police. The second party occurred on August 10 on Autumn Lane where a group of teens used the pool at the home of a friend who was away. When a neighbor called the police with a noise complaint, that party also came to an abrupt halt.

There were 14 persons at a party on River Road early on the morning of August 18, and again, a neighbor called police because of noise. Most of the persons present were 18 and heading off to college in the coming week; in fact, one of the parties was intended as a last get-together before they left town for school.

Police policy firm and clear

Police Chief John Sullivan is unequivocal about his department’s response to these recent events: “We have zero tolerance for underage drinking.” He says parents will be called in every case of underage drinking the Carlisle Police deal with. Most of the parents whose children were involved in the parties have already met with the police. Many of them were called directly to the house where the party was being held because the cars used to get there were registered to the parents and their children needed a way to get home.

Restorative justice offers alternative to court procedure

Police departments in communities that have a restorative justice program have the option of referring an offender to that program as an alternative to the criminal justice system. Successful participants have the opportunity to avoid a court appearance or a police record. Christy Barbee, of the restorative justice program, indicated last Tuesday that the program will accept the police referral and has already been in contact with many of the teens charged.

The time and effort required to work with all the individuals charged, their parents, the families whose property was used for the party, and the police is immense. However, scheduling the several meetings necessary to work through the problem may prove an even more daunting task, since many of the youths involved are off to college and their restorative justice circle will need to be held during Thanksgiving and Christmas school vacations. ∆

[Ed note: The Communities for Restorative Justice holds training progams for new volunteers twice a year. Anyone interested in volunteering may contact Christy Barbee at 1-978-318-3447. See also letter on page 12 and press release on page 20.]

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito