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U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Justice Programs
Office for Victims of Crime
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Victims, Judges, and Juvenile Court Reform Through Restorative Justice

While a number of states have recently passed legislation to increase the rights of victims in juvenile courts, there is still a huge discrepancy between victims' rights in juvenile courts and adult courts. The great majority of victims of juvenile offenders feel excluded from the workings of the juvenile court. After their victimization, they typically learn little about what happens with their case. This can magnify their sense of powerlessness and fear of revictimization. In an effort to understand why this exclusion occurs and how it can be corrected, the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) funded a project that conducted four focus groups of juvenile court judges and victims of juvenile offenders. Their activities and findings were documented for this publication, Victims, Judges, and Juvenile Court Reform Through Restorative Justice.

OVC believes that all victims, regardless of the age of their offenders, should be afforded basic rights and services by the courts, including notification of key events in their case, information about the offender's status, court-ordered restitution and protection, and referrals to victim assistance services and compensation. Additionally, it is critically important for all victims to be treated with dignity and respect.

The focus groups afforded crime victims and juvenile court judges an opportunity to exchange experiences and views on victim issues in juvenile court. Using restorative justice principles as a framework for developing a fairer distribution of rights and responsibilities, the victims and judges explored a range of actions and strategies to improve the responses toward crime victims by courts and the entire juvenile justice system.

Focus group participants expressed appreciation for the helpful dialogue afforded by the focus group format. OVC hopes to make this format available to other jurisdictions so they, too, can conduct expanded and continuous dialogue among crime victims, their advocates, the community, and juvenile justice professionals. Many participants planned to use this format on a continuing basis at the local level.

OVC anticipates that juvenile court personnel, juvenile probation agencies, state Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) victim assistance administrators, and victim service organizations will all find this publication helpful as it gathers and makes available to the field the perceptions of victims of the juvenile justice system and the perceptions of juvenile court judges regarding the roles and rights of victims in the juvenile justice system. We at OVC encourage an ongoing dialogue that can only improve the treatment of crime victims by the juvenile courts.


Victims, Judges, and Juvenile Court Reform Through Restorative Justice


Project Objectives


Balancing Client Needs: Restorative Juvenile Justice

Project Purpose and Methodology

Focus Group Findings

Victims as Involved Stakeholders

The Viability of Restorative Justice Practices

Meeting Victims' Needs: Role of the Juvenile Court and Justice System

Summary and Conclusion

For Further Information


Additional Resources

The Restorative Justice and Mediation Collection

PDF and ASCII Files

Back to Publications

This document was prepared by the Community Justice Institute at Florida Atlantic University under grant number 97-VF-GX-K013, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Office for Victims of Crime is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.


OVC gratefully acknowledges the Community Justice Institute at Florida Atlantic University for its fine efforts in managing this project. OVC also gratefully acknowledges the project's principal investigators and writers: Gordon Bazemore, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, College of Urban and Public Affairs; Anne Seymour, Co-principal Investigator, Victim Advocate; Susan Day, Ph.D., Project Manager; and Ted Rubin, Senior Research Associate.

October 2000

NCJ 179383

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