In 2016, Attorney General Racine launched OAG’s Restorative Justice Program to address the root problems of crime and conflict, and offer juvenile prosecutors an alternative to traditional prosecution. Restorative justice conferencing is a way to resolve conflicts by focusing on repairing harm to victims. This program brings those affected by a crime together with the offenders for a discussion to hold offenders accountable, empower victims and repair the harm caused by crime.
Nationwide statistics show restorative justice programs have better success than traditional prosecution at rehabilitating offenders, increasing victim satisfaction and lowering costs.
With the help of a U.S. Department of Justice Smart Prosecution grant, OAG has expanded its use of restorative justice and has hired five full-time staffers for this program. By expanding this data-driven program in communities around the District, OAG is addressing community conflicts directly in neighborhoods experiencing violence. While other jurisdictions have implemented restorative justice programs, OAG is the first public safety agency to do so in-house, where restorative justice specialists work alongside prosecutors. This innovative approach to juvenile justice helps reduce recidivism and support better outcomes for District youth.
In 2019 the Center for Court Innovation, funded by the US Department of Justice, studied OAG’s Restorative Justice Program. They found that the program promoted empowerment and healing for victims and built accountability and understanding among youth charged with crime.