Juvenile Justice Project
The Juvenile Justice Project is PILOT's pro-bono project this year. We are working in conjunction with the Center for Restorative Practices at the Public Advocacy Center (PAC). The program is aimed at breaking the school to prison pipeline where youth have engaged in minor criminal activities and find themselves under probation or conditional restraints, which make it more likely than not that they will be imprisoned for mild infractions. For instance, if a 13 year old is caught shop lifting and is on probation with the condition that he or she does not engage in any misconduct in school, if that 13 year old then finds him or herself in a fight in school, they not only risk suspension or expulsion, but imprisonment based on violating probationary conditions. The concern with this arrangement is that the Juvenile Justice System is taking youth who have committed relatively mild infractions and sending them to prison where rehabilitative efforts are minimized. The forecast in this scenario is that we are producing hardened criminals at a young age rather than restoring youth to more law abiding members of the community.
As such, PILOT in conjunction with the Center for Restorative Practice has offered Conference training which certifies participants through the International Institute for Restorative Practices to facilitate Conferences. Conferences are a form of ADR used to preclude youth from entering the CJS for typically minor infractions. The way that it is set up is upon the consent of the victim and offender (these titles are neutralized during the Conference itself) and others affected by the incident, a Conference is arranged by the Facilitator whereby all parties come together to discuss how the event affected them and what might be an agreeable outcome. We are currently working with Central Islip's school district in implementing Conferences at the school and also within a group home setting.