NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – How to stop juvenile offenders before they become violent, adult criminals is the problem a Davidson County pilot program is tackling.
Restorative justice has cut the number of repeat offenders and increased victim satisfaction in other cities.
The district attorney wants to bring it to Nashville, and Glenn Funk just returned from Oakland, California, where they’ve used such a program that’s been fairly successful.
The goal is for an offender to not only be held accountable for the crime they commit but also for the victim to have the chance to be a part of the process for their own healing.
The pilot program would start in the juvenile courts here, but if it works, it could be expanded to the adult system.
In restorative justice, the case is sent to a diversion program run by a non-profit. In Davidson County, teens charged with vehicle thefts, home burglaries, and nonviolent crime could participate if the victim agrees.
News 2 asked DA Funk about concerns that restorative justice is not tough enough on offenders.
“What has to happen is the offender has to accept responsibility. They have to admit to what they did, they have to meet with the victim, they find out what they need to do to make the victim whole, and then they have to take concrete steps to try to make the victim whole,” Funk explained.
He continued, “The community whole, their family whole, and themselves whole in a way that would have them become part of the community and appreciate the fact of what’s required of a responsible citizen.”
Focusing restorative justice at the juvenile level is one of the recommendations from the mayor’s youth violence summits a year ago.
DA Funk said he wants to roll the program out soon, but first they need to find a non-profit organization to partner with,
That is something his office and Judge Shelia Calloway in juvenile court are working on right now.
News 2 did some checking and Oakland reports more than a 90 percent satisfaction rate with victims who participate in the program. The rate of repeat offenders is just 12 percent.