• September 22, 2022

Healing and Community Problem Solving through the Neighborhood Justice Program

Healing and Community Problem Solving through the Neighborhood Justice Program

Healing and Community Problem Solving through the Neighborhood Justice Program 599 620 Consumer & Business

The Neighborhood Justice Program, operated through the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, is an initiative that focuses on participant rehabilitation through a restorative justice lens for first-time or low-level alleged offenders.

Program participants are identified through an internal referral process that is intentional, thorough, and accountable. Another goal of the program is to identify participants with unmet needs who may have made an unproductive decision and could benefit from a communal accountability approach. This community-focused healing and accountability restorative justice model began in 2014 and more than 4,000 participants have been successfully diverted from the criminal justice system, avoiding the time, trauma, and post-social effects of being a justice-involved individual.

Saminh Greenberg, the program administrator, and Will Sheffie, the program’s coordinator, described the 200-plus community members that comprise their volunteer corps as “The heart of the program.” One participant appreciated NJP so much they decided to explore becoming a volunteer. NJP provided the training, guidance, and support and now has a volunteer with direct intimate experience of the participants in the program.

These community volunteers and panelists, who have completed a 25-hour mediation course, help the program participants process the alleged offense; advise, counsel, and converse about unhealthy triggers, motives, and behaviors; and serve as the community’s representatives to make sure that the eight-week obligations the participants agree to are commensurate with the alleged offense.

The program participants are grateful for the community partners that help complete their agreement. Since the program’s inception, the Assistance League and Volunteers of America have been steadfast partners. Another organization, the Coalition for Responsible Community Development has offered a culturally competent space that is starkly different from what offenders would otherwise experience in the judicial system. They also offer intake services to assess potential unmet service needs that might decrease the participant’s reengagement in alleged unhealthy behavior.

The support continues after the participant meets their obligation. In fact, case workers follow up with participants over the next two years. With this multifaceted approach to rehabilitation, only 5 percent of the program participants have taken part in another alleged offense.

The Neighborhood Justice Program is funded by the Dispute Resolution Program Act grant funding administered locally through the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs.

For more information regarding the Neighborhood Justice Program, please visit lacityattorney.org/njp.

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