Facing a shoplifting charge, a 17-year-old girl came to a Neighborhood Accountability Board (NAB) meeting with four community members. The young woman was taking responsibility for her actions, was open to whatever action plan she and the board developed and wanted to initiate life changes. After the NAB, her friends asked how it went. Her response? “It was awesome! Those people were the bomb.”
The young woman’s mentor later told the CCR facilitators that the NAB was a turning point in her life. To tell her story, she has written music inspired by her NAB experience that she now performs at area churches.
Using restorative justice processes, a neighborhood accountability board brings together a victim, an offender and community members to participate in dialogue and to find ways to make as right as possible harm that has occurred.
A Kansas City, Mo., assistant prosecutor begins the process by referring to the Center for Conflict Resolution the name of an offender who may have committed a low level crime, such as shoplifting or vandalism. A panel of neighbors trained in restorative justice, the offender and often a victim hear one another’s stories as a CCR staff member facilitates. The community members relate the impact the crime had on their attitudes toward safety and other repercussions of the crime. Together, all participants agree upon restitution that helps the offender recognize the human impact of his or her behavior and take responsibility for the behavior, making as right as possible the harm done.