Restorative Community Service (RCS) is done when it enables offenders to see their service as a personal obligation, not a punishment. An opportunity to make right, even if only symbolically, the wrong they have done. Work that is valued, by victims and/or the community.
In addition to holding offenders accountable for their crimes, RCS provides them with the opportunity to be integrated into the community as people capable of making a positive contribution. This integration creates change in both the offender and the community.
While a community service experience may be limited in time, the value it has long term should not be underestimated.
Community members and organizations are provided information and support from the justice system. This enables them to take on an active partnership role working with juvenile offenders on community initiated projects. Offenders are prepared through intentional conversations with justice system staff. Staff help offenders to understand their community service as both a personal obligation and an opportunity to make amends for harms done.
Community groups are invited to identify meaningful projects where juvenile offenders can work side by side with volunteers from the community.
Offenders working in isolation, or only with other offenders, minimizes the value of community service. Projects that enable offenders to work in partnership with community members create opportunities for meaningful accountability, integration and change.
Community organizations help by providing these opportunities. They also provide the personal contacts and relationships (i.e. mentoring and role modeling) that are the crucial difference in making community service truly restorative.
Provide a Project
Projects will allow appropriate young offenders the opportunity to work alongside other volunteer community members to accomplish a meaningful task. These projects can be large, small, continuous or one-time events.
Become a Community Service Co-Worker
Work alongside a young offender, not as a supervisor or boss, but as a Community Service Coworker. Engage them in conversation, work with them and encourage and commend good work. Act as a liaison from the Juvenile Court to the service site.