Juvenile Review Board (JRB)
About the Juvenile Review Board
Juvenile Review Boards (JRB) represent an effort to divert juvenile offenders from the formal juvenile justice system. JRBs are community-based and tailored to the communities they serve. JRBs generally provide juvenile offenders, who take responsibility for their behavior, an opportunity to avoid going to Juvenile Court by facing a group of volunteer community members, their victims, their parent(s)/guardian(s) and other Community Shareholder. The JRB reduce the burden on juvenile court, allowing it to focus on more serious juvenile offenders. Through the New Haven and Hamden JRB, first-time offenders experience a more immediate and individualized response to their offenses than courts can currently offer, enhancing their understanding that their negative behavior has consequences, on their family, the victim, their community and themselves, and that they are accountable for such behaviors. In addition, victims have a better opportunity to participate in dealing with the offense against them, and these low-level juvenile offenders avoid the stigma and potential limitations associated with a juvenile record.
Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)
JRBs are founded on the balanced and restorative justice values and principles. This approach balances the needs of the juvenile, the victim, and the community. The New Haven and Hamden JRBs are community-based programs that reflect the principles of BARJ, which include accountability, youth competency development and public safety. Accordingly, the JRB will assist juveniles in developing an understanding of how his or her behavior victimized the individual who was the subject of the offense and impacts their family and the community in which he or she lives. Youth are required to acknowledge that their behavior was harmful to others both directly and indirectly. The JRB also enables the child to take action to repair the harm they have done, either directly, where possible, or indirectly. Finally, through this process, the JRB will assist the child in developing competencies that will enable him or her to effect necessary changes in their behavior to avoid re-offending in the future.
Number and Types of Cases
Two hundred (200) youth are served each year by the New Haven JRB and the Hamden JRB serves approximately sixty-five (65) youth annually. Eligible cases are identified by the Police Departments, Public Schools, as well as families themselves, and then referred to the JRB. Youth may be eligible for the JRB when they are accused of committing certain offenses falling within the following categories:
1. Delinquency offenses – a child with no prior record who commits a misdemeanor offense, a “D” felony, or violates a local or municipal
2. Family with Service Needs – a child with no prior record who ran away from home; was beyond control of the parent/guardian; engaged in indecent or immoral conduct; had four or more unexcused absences from school in one month or ten or more in one year; or was defiant of school rules.
3. Broad Criteria – The following broad criteria are applicable to all cases potentially eligible for the JRB:
The offender and the offense must fall within the jurisdiction of the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters (SCJM) because the sanction for failing to comply with the recommendations of the JRB is a referral to SCJM.
The child must live in New Haven or Hamden.
Children who have not been previously referred to SCJM for any criminal or non-criminal offense are the primary focus of the JRB. In some circumstances a child previously referred to SCJM may be eligible.
The child has not previously exited from the JRB’s oversight due to noncompliance with its recommendations.
The child readily admits responsibility for the offense.
The child does not raise any legal (self defense, justification, duress, etc.) or constitutional (illegal search, seizure or arrest; police brutality, etc.) defense to the charge.
Knowing the possible consequences, the child desires, with the consent of the child’s parent/guardian, to participate in the JRB program.
A child whose victim opposes handling of the case by the JRB is ineligible for the program because victims of juvenile crime have certain rights in cases handled by SCJM.
The child accused of committing the offense and the family must understand the JRB process and be willing to participate in the program because participation in the program involves the knowing and voluntary waiver of certain rights that would be available in a court proceeding.
Finally, the availability of appropriate activities, programs and services to meet the needs of the child and family must be considered when deciding whether to refer a case to the JRB. A case involving a child or family with needs that cannot be met through the use of community services is inappropriate for the JRB.
JRB Community Panels:
JRB Advisory Board
JRB Advisory Board. An Advisory Board, comprised of New Haven and Hamden business, civic, municipal, education and social service agency leaders will help select JRB panel members. The Advisory Board also will review JRB program policies, and identify social service resources in particular neighborhoods, i.e., community resource mapping. The Advisory Board also could assist the JRB in accessing costly services for children and youth appearing before the JRB, such as drug treatment, tutoring and family counseling.