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Balanced and Restorative Justice (barj)

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Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)
The aspects of this have been carried out for years and years. However, BARJ became truly incorporated and identifiable in last 10 years or so, especially during the Gov. Ridge administration’s Get Tough on Crime agenda. Focused specifically was Juvenile Law.
It is Balanced because:

  • Guiding principal of Juvenile Justice which promotes maximum AND equal involvement of the victim, the offender, and the community

  • For many years, when a crime was committed, it was only assumed to be committed against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In court, there was the District Attorney and the Defense Attorney. Forgotten was the actual victim to whom the crime actually occurred to.

  • Addresses competency development of the offender, the protection of the community , and offender accountability

Balance Equals: Community, victim, and offender should receive balanced attention. All three should gain tangible and meaningful benefits from their interactions with the juvenile justice system

It is Restorative Justice because:

  • Restorative Justice is concerned with repairing the actual harm done to victims and the community through a process of negotiation, mediation, victim empowerment, and reparation. It is concerned with the broader relationships among offenders, victims, and the community.

Under BARJ we see these three components in name: Accountability, Community Protection, and Competency Development

  • Accountability- DEFINED AS: When an offense occurs there is then an obligation to the actual victim(s). Victims and communities should have their losses restored by the actions of the offender(s) making reparation, and victims should be empowered as active participants in the juvenile justice process. Examples of accountability: community service, restitution, random urine screens, apology letters, victim awareness curriculum, and sanctions, which we will get into a little later.

  • Community Protection- DEFINED AS: The public has the right to a safe and secure community and must be protected during the time the offender is under supervision. Juvenile justice provides a range of intervention alternatives geared to the varying risks presented by the offender.

Examples of Community Protection: sanctions, no contact orders (which judges are taking very, very serious now), curfew requirements, day treatment programs, least restrictive residential placements leading all the way up to secure YDC commitments (YDC stands for Youth Development Centers, and are considered the end of the juvenile road and quite simply, juvenile prisons).

  • Competency Development- DEFINED AS: Offenders should leave the juvenile justice system capable of being productive and responsible members of the community. Offenders should make measurable improvements in their ability to function as productive, responsible citizens. Basically…we want you to leave the system better in every aspect of your life than when you first came into the system, in order to be responsible and productive members of society.

Examples of Competency Development: having clients get mental health and drug and alcohol evaluations and following through with recommended treatment, monitoring school attendance, grades, and behavior, summer school, anger management classes, encouragement of participation in school activates, employment, any type of counseling, etc.

  • Another largely unknown aspect of BARJ is the Act 33 Tier of Charges. Here, if you commit a serious enough crime, such as: Armed Robbery, ……………………………………………….

Different Types of Sanctions: verbal warnings and re-direction, house arrest, home detention, electronic home monitors (EHM), 7-day Vision Quest Boot and Hat Camp, Shuman Center for up to 72 hours, additional hours of community service, the written completion of essays pertaining to relevant issues, the completion of daily sign-in sheets and progress reports, extensive of the duration of supervision, and other diversion and alternative programs, such as the ASI Retail Theft Program.

There are many reasons why someone under court supervision can be sanctioned, and getting sanctioned is solely up to the individual Probation Officer and their supervisor: positive drug test, skipping school, getting suspended, breaking curfew, not complying with the any condition of supervision, missing community service hours and appointments, disrupting classes in school, fighting, not listening to household rules, etc.


  • When a juvenile is first arrested, the police department either takes the child to Shuman Center or releases them to the custody of their parents. If the child is taken to Shuman Center, the offense is more serious and a petition will automatically be filed, and the child will be appearing at a Juvenile Court Hearing. However, if the child does not go to Shuman Center, then the police officer forwards the report to juvenile court and the assigned Intake Probation Officer will decide how to handle the case. If someone who is arrested is already under supervision, 99% of the time regardless of the charges, the child is taken to Shuman. I can remember only a few times when I didn’t authorize admission to Shuman for someone I was supervising, and it generally was because of certain instances.

Getting back to different ways an Intake Probation Officer can handle a case:

  • The PO has several options: file a petition and schedule the case for court, do an Intake Adjustment, or place the offender on a Extended Service Contract

  • Intake Adjustment-no charges are filed, thus the child does not go to court. Basically, the charges are withdrawn by the Probation Office. This usually is the result of one major factor: the victim not wishing to pursue the charges. As a result, there is no record and the case is never formally opened.

  • Extended Service Contract-This is generally reserved for cases of less serious offenses or cases where a minimal amount of supervision can accomplish the intended goal of no further court involvement. This is the Probation Department’s lowest form of supervision. Under an Extended Service Contract: the charges do not make it to an actual court hearing, so thus, no petition is filed and the child will not have a record. However, the child is under the supervision of a Probation Officer and will be ordered to do community service, pay restitution if applicable, receive drug tests, submit to an evaluation and comply with its recommendations, write relevant papers (ex: if it is a drug related charge – an essay will be to write about the dangers of drug and alcohol use). This form of supervision lasts 3-8 months. One significant aspect: the PO CANNOT sanction child at Shuman or any other way under this type of supervision. However, if the infraction is serious enough (positive drug test, failing classes, not coming to school, etc), the Extended Service Contract usually gets voided and a Petition will be filed and the child will have a court hearing.

  • If a petition is filed by the Probation Office, and the child is taken to Juvenile Court, the type of supervision is then determined by what the Judge orders: a Consent Decree, Probation, Day/Evening Programs, or residential placement. All of these allow the Probation Office to sanction the child.

  • Consent Decree- There is NOT an adjudication (means the same as being found guilty in the adult system) but rather a suspension or continuation of the actual charges and the child is placed under supervision of the Probation Office for 6-12 months—cannot last longer than 12 months. In order to qualify for a Consent Decree, the child must be making his or her first appearance AND all parties involved (child, police, probation, judge, and VICTIM) must agree and give consent – hence the name Consent Decree. Because there is NOT an adjudication, the child basically is not admitting to the charges or admitting officially to any wrong doing . However, because he or she agrees to be under supervision, and by doing many conditions, there is then the notion that he or she was actually involved (2 way street).

The conditions of a standard Consent Decree: curfew hours, complete community service, pay restitution if applicable, pay a $25.00 fee and a $10.00 fee, submit to random drug testing, drug and alcohol or mental health evaluations, attend school daily and work to abilities, and counseling if necessary and/or appropriate, etc. If the child successfully completes the period of supervision, then ultimately the charges are dismissed and the case is closed.

* Once the charge is dismissed, the child DOES NOT automatically have a ‘clean record’. The child has to wait 6 months from the case closing date in order to file a Motion for Expungement. During these 6 months, the child must prove to the judge and District Attorney they were not in any further trouble, then a motion needs to be filed, another court hearing is scheduled, and the child must prove his or her case in front of a judge.

  • Probation-almost the EXACT same as a Consent Decree, however, one major difference is that you ARE adjudicated delinquent, you will have a record, and time frame the child is under supervision is indefinite and up to the discretion of the Probation Office.

Major Differences of Consent Decree vs. Probation Supervision: Consent Decree means no adjudication, it lasts from 6-12 months, and you can earn a clean record; Probation means you will have an adjudication, it can last any amount of time, and the child will have a record.

  • Day/Evening Program: consist of the Academy and the CISP Center (Community Intensive Supervision Program). These 2 programs are, in essence, identical.

Differences: CISP centers serve only specific neighborhoods and the child must reside in that area. CISP Centers include; the Hill District, Homewood, Garfield, Wilkinsburg, and McKeesport. Only MALES can be committed to the CISP Center, and each child is required to wear an ankle bracelet, so whereabouts can be known at all times. Juvenile Offenders coming from all the other neighborhoods throughout Allegheny County go to the Academy Day / Evening Program in Baldwin. While at the Academy, only certain children wear ankle bracelets, and all others get nightly, and very late, curfew calls. Both programs require the child to attend the program daily after school, to participate in various classes, counseling, groups, and trades, mandatory curfew calls, and sanctioning. The Academy has their own, on site, sanction program called ‘the Rez’. The CISP sanctions their students at Shuman Center.

  • Residential Treatment Programs-consist of numerous programs varying from least to most restrictive; examples are Vision Quest Boot & Hat Camp, Abraxas, George Junior Republic, Summit Academy, Adelphoi Village, Gateway Rehabilitation, Auberle, Pyramids, Youth Development Centers (YDC which is MOST restrictive), to name a just few.

Differences of Adult and Juvenile Probation: Juvenile is treatment based, therapeutic, and not punitive in nature. Adult system is punitive in nature but does seek to implement services designed to help the offender.
Differences of Probation Officers and Police Officers: Police investigate the crimes and have arresting powers. PO can only take into custody those under supervision. Police do not supervise the child in any capacity.

Basic Points: a crime is first committed and the local police department having authority and jurisdiction is notified.

Police Investigation: the investigation proceeds and police have authority to question victims, witnesses, and the suspect (s). In their investigation, they can conduct photo lineups, take photographs, collect and analyze all types of physical and circumstantial evidence, etc. Once their investigation is concluded, they can opt to file charges or consult the District Attorney’s office for further assistance.

If the police do file charges, they are initially beginning the criminal process so to speak. A basic juvenile police report consists of a 3-page Police to Juvenile Court Referral, where all identifying information is reported (name, address, and other demographic information), as well as the charge (s) and a small ‘Summary of Events’. Following the 3 page referral is the detailed report.

Once the police report is received by the Probation Offce, and the court hearing is concluded, the police are pretty much out of the picture, relatively speaking.
Intake Referral to Case Closing: Petition filed, Consent Decree, CD revoked and reinstated – placed on Probation; VOP then committed to the Academy; FTA from Academy and sent away from home to a residential program, Probation following Academy Aftercare from placement; Case Closed

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