Balanced & Restorative Justice (BARJ)
Victims of crime, the community, and the juvenile offenders should receive balanced attention from the juvenile justice system and each should gain substantial benefits from their interactions with the system. Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) has shifted the mission of Juvenile probation from an offender-centered point of view (rehabilitation) towards a model emphasizing the development of safe communities (protection), responsible youth (competencies) and victim restoration (accountability).
The focus of the Washington County Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) initiative is to expand the parameters of justice. The responsibility of the juvenile justice system for delivering impartial, equal, and fair treatment to the offender shall be broadened to include providing balanced attention and services to the juvenile offender, the crime victim, and the communities of Washington County.
This mission is dedicated to providing new programs and services, supported by ongoing research and program output evaluation that address the needs of the community, the victim and the offender. It is envisioned that as the community becomes pro-active with the offender a safer, healthier, and more cohesive community will result.
Outcome of the BARJ Initiative
By encouraging greater participation by the victim and the community-at-large in the decision-making process the county BARJ initiative provides the arena in which rational solutions to juvenile crime problems can be nurtured and in which the statewide BARJ mandate can become the pivotal function. It is essential that the BARJ initiative foster accountability and participation by all involved parties.
The citizens of Pennsylvania have a right to safe and secure communities. Juvenile Court ensures offenders are properly supervised in the community and that offenders’ time is structured in productive activities. This is accomplished through probation supervision, electronic monitoring, and graduated sanctioning. An emphasis is placed on supervision in the least restrictive environment possible based on the juvenile’s circumstances.
When a juvenile commits a crime in Pennsylvania, an obligation to the victim is incurred. The goal of BARJ is to restore the victim to their pre-crime status, including but not limited to financial, emotional and physical well-being.
A juvenile may be ordered by the court to make restitution to the victim, perform community service, write a letter of apology and/or participate in the Victim Awareness Curriculum group as part of their conditions of court supervision. Through Victim Awareness Curriculum groups, juvenile offenders become aware of the impact their crimes have not only to the victims but also to the community at large.
Juvenile Court has also formed an important partnership with the Washington County District Attorney’s Office of Victim Services, which offers a high level of victim participation, pre and post adjudication, thus affording a greater response to the victim’s concerns.
Juveniles who come within the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania’s juvenile justice system should leave the system more capable of being responsible and productive members of their communities.
Juveniles who become active in Washington County Juvenile Court are linked with community organizations that provide counseling, evidence-based practices to assist in cognitive development and decision making, educational supports, family supports and life-skills to address that juvenile’s criminogenic needs.