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Restorative justice program for juveniles to be tested in Davidson County

Statistics show that the both the Metro-Nashville area and Davidson County have seen a troubling trend in recent years: an increase in both juvenile crime and violence. As discouraging as this development is, the good news is that the reaction of local officials hasn't been to simply make more arrests.

For example, the mayor's office hosted a series of Youth Violence Summits last spring, during which multiple recommendations were made for reducing juvenile crime. One such recommendation was the adoption of a restorative justice program, something that the Davidson County District Attorney's Office and the juvenile court system are now poised to try.

What is a restorative justice program? 

A restorative justice program is a criminal justice model designed to rehabilitate juvenile offenders by enabling them to reconcile with both their victim and the community at large.

Specifically, the young offender has to admit to their crime, be willing to take responsibility for their actions, and work with counselors in the aim of meeting with their victim.

Victims, if they choose to participate, will also meet with counselors before the meeting with the offender. When that one-to-one finally occurs, they will be able to speak with the offender and ask them questions.

The goal of this diversion program is for the victim to secure closure. Conversely, the goal for the offender is to see how their actions affect others and, by extension, help them escape the criminal cycle and avoid the development of an adversarial relationship with law enforcement.

Does it work?

Restorative justice programs have been implemented with great success in the Bay Area, with Oakland seeing only a 12 percent recidivism rate among juvenile offenders and a 90 percent satisfaction rating from victims.

When will the project launch in Davidson County?

According to the Davidson County DA, the project is in its final planning stages with a non-profit partner likely to be selected by September 1. Indeed, he indicated that if the pilot project proves successful, it's conceivable that it could someday be expanded to adult offenders.

It will be interesting to see how this unfolds …

If your child has been charged with any manner of criminal offense, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional as soon as possible as their freedom and their future may be on the line.   

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Mr. McKellar was voted by his peers as a “Top Attorney” by Knoxville’s CityView Magazine in its 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 editions. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, Mr. McKellar was selected as a member of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by the National Trial Lawyers.

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