Community conferencing provides a cost-effective and meaningful community-based response to juvenile crime by empowering the community of people affected by the incident, including victims, offenders, and supporters, to collectively resolve the case themselves.
Young offenders are held accountable for their actions, victims have a voice, and everyone decides how to best repair the harm and prevent future occurrences.
And it works!
Re-offending rates for young offenders using community conferencing are 60% lower than those who went through the juvenile justice system.
Referrals come from:
- Maryland Department of Juvenile Services (DJS) - Harford County
- State’s attorney’s office
- School resource officers
- Local law enforcement
During a community conference, a trained facilitator brings together victims, offenders and their respective supporters to discuss:
- What happened
- How everyone has been affected
- How to resolve the matter and prevent it from happening again through a written agreement
If the written agreement is completed, the case is closed. If a written agreement cannot be agreed upon, then the case gets returned to the referral source to be processed in the usual manner.
By having all those affected by the incident included in the outcome, compliance with community conferencing agreements is more than 95%.
Uses for Community Conferencing
Alternative to court for cases including:
- Second-degree assault
- Automobile theft or unauthorized use
- Breaking and entering
- Theft or larceny
- Destruction of property
- Neighborhood conflict
- Conflicts within detention or residential facilities among youth, staff, etc.
- Wraparound service planning
- After care planning
- Delivers an immediate, meaningful response to crime
- Reduces recidivism
- Offenders held accountable for their actions
- Highly cost-effective
- Victims are included in deciding outcomes
- Victims report feeling that "justice was served"
- Participants are connected to a network of support
- Reduces minority over-representation in criminal justice system
- Frees up the court system resources to better address serious cases
- Prevents entry into deeper end of criminal justice system
- Builds community cohesion
For more information, contact the Harford County Community Mediation Program at 410-638-4807.