Juvenile Court Mediation
We have been helping youth involved in the court system by providing juvenile mediation services in the Juvenile Courts of Western Connecticut since 2005. In doing so, we play an important role in permitting a brighter future for juveniles and in reducing violence and crime in the community.
Juvenile cases are referred to us by probation, prosecutors and from other court service providers who believe the matter could be better handled outside of the courtroom. Using restorative dialogue techniques our professional mediators bring together the people affected by a particular crime or incident. Types of cases include assault, breach of peace, threatening, vandalism, theft and selected Families With Service Needs cases.
After receiving a referral, our mediators hold separate meetings with the individuals and parents of any youth involved to see if they all are willing and ready to participate in a dialogue with the others. If all have agreed, then a mediation session is held.
During the session our mediators facilitate the dialogue so that each side has a chance to speak about the offense and to hear the other's views. In particular for cases involving a victim, the process ensures the victim has an opportunity to express how the incident affected them and what will repair the damage. Restorative dialogue is the only safe, private way in our court system for victims to express themselves and ask questions of the offender. In more than 95% of the juvenile cases we mediate, an agreement is reached which covers feasible ways to repair the harm and/or methods to avoid future conflicts. Thanks to grant funding from the Tow Foundation, participation in this dialogue is available for no charge.
Restorative Dialogue to Prevent Crime and Violence
Restorative dialogue is an effective alternative to what is often an unbroken cycle of crime and punishment. Studies from across the county and the world confirm the benefits of these techniques for victims as well the positive effect on recidivism of offenders. Data from our juvenile program show that juveniles commit one-fifth the crimes after mediation compared to juveniles who do not participate in mediation. You can download our highlights of these studies. Additionally, questionnaires completed by youthful offenders, the victims and parents show that 99% are "satisfied" or "very satisfied" with the mediation process.
DSC also provides services to groups and agencies to assist with specific issues of tension. DSC facilitators have experience in assisting others to communicate clearly, listen for and identify new information, find common ground, and make informed, thoughtful decisions. Our facilitators do not decide for the group, tell it what to do, or take sides. Their role is to be impartial, helping the group to work together to accomplish their goals. Using various techniques, our facilitators can help with community discussions around specific incidents between youth, or between youth and police, on topics such as racial tensions or violence. Please contact our office to find out more.
DSC can also provide mediation training and coaching to organizations wishing to expand the services offered to their at-risk clients. Trainings and workshops can also include improving their organization's ability to build consensus and resolve disputes. Please contact our office to find out more.