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BJA Program Helps Bring Restorative Justice to Virginia Youth

Success Spotlight

This story is associated with a fiscal year 2021 award made to the City of Danville (Virginia) through the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. The grant award amount was between $0 and $100,000.

About the Program

The City of Danville, Virginia, has implemented community-based programming that will disrupt and divert youth legal system involvement through youth-led restorative programming and a youth peer court. Both diversion programs aim to reduce disproportionality in the juvenile legal system and serve youth in their home community by directly involving families and the community. The programs incorporate a comprehensive curriculum that is centered in evidence-based learning and provides both traditional instruction and peer-driven learning opportunities.

Restorative practices promote youth accountability, empowerment, and community investment in youth reintegration. Research also shows that restorative justice practices reduce youth recidivism. Implementation of the Center for Youth and Family Advocacy’s (CYFA) Promoting Empathy through Equitable Resolution (PEER) and Youth Peer Court (YPC)—collaborative, community-based justice and youth peer court diversion programs—has been intentional system-transformation work.

Program Successes and Effect on the Community

CYFA has trained police, court personnel, prosecutors, and youth in both PEER and YPC. Restorative facilitators and youth facilitators have been trained in PEER Ambassador Academy. CYFA also has developed comprehensive handbooks on the programs for the court services unit and restorative facilitators, to ensure fidelity to restorative practice and the PEER and YPC programs.

Finally, CYFA convened the community and stakeholders to develop a comprehensive, place-based Children & Youth Master Plan focused on creating a community-based system in which all children and youth have the resources and opportunities to thrive. Among the approximately 80 recommendations for the city across eight strategies (Safety & Security, Cognitive Health, Mental Health, Physical Health, Relationships, Community, Purpose, and Environment), the plan advocates for restorative practice to be embedded in community culture. Cross-sectors partners and the community have embraced PEER, YPC, and the plan.

If your agency, organization, or community has been positively impacted by BJA funding, let us know.

Date Published: February 1, 2023