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A model system fosters a culture of responsibility. First, it insists that young people accept responsibility for their actions—and take active measures to repair any harm they may have done to others.

A model system also invites and expects adults to accept responsibility. It builds and broadens partnerships with the families and local communities of the youth it serves.

Finally, a model system accepts responsibility for its own performance, actively tracking and monitoring its record of successes and failures and responding appropriately as a system.

A juvenile justice system that is dedicated to these principles will engage in these responsibility-enforcing practices:

Youth responsibility

  • A flexible and graduated system of sanctions and incentives
  • Meaningful community service programs
  • Victim restitution programs
  • Victim impact/awareness training and other developmentally appropriate accountability program components

Community responsibility

  • Policies and decision-making criteria that favor appropriate diversion at arrest, intake, and adjudication stages
  • A continuum of local alternatives to formal processing, detention, and incarceration
  • Least restrictive/nearest to home alternatives systematically preferred in all decision-making
  • Inclusion of community members and organizations in local planning and development, diversion policy-setting, and creation of community service opportunities
  • Active recruitment of community members to teach, mentor, monitor, and informally resolve disputes among youth

System responsibility

  • Mechanisms for tracking and reporting case-level successes and failures (new offenses, restitution paid, community service performed, etc.) at case termination