2017 Top 25
Winners:
County of Albany, NY
January 1, 2017
Jurisdiction:
New York

The Albany County Juvenile Community Accountability Board (JCAB) provides the Probation Department a diversion option for juveniles charged with misdemeanor or low-level felony offenses. JCAB provides the victims, the community, and the juvenile a reparative experience without needlessly expending correctional resources that can used more effectively for serious juvenile offenders. Historically, juveniles arrested for crimes in Albany County were afforded little in the way of graduated sanctions at the diversion level, and as a result, young people, many of whom were being charged with relatively minor offenses, were often referred to court based primarily on the number of times they had been arrested. This resulted in the needless permeation of juveniles into the Family Court System and subsequently reduced the likelihood of a positive outcome for them. As a solution to the growing need for graduated sanctions within the Juvenile Delinquency Diversion process, JCAB was initiated as a pilot program at the Albany County Probation Department in 2006. Modeled after the district attorney’s Adult Community Accountability Board (CAB), JCAB was intended to provide an alternative to traditional responses to juvenile crime and focuses on repairing the harm caused to victims of crime while simultaneously enabling juveniles to learn about the impact of their offenses and ways to avoid re-offending. JCAB is comprised of citizen volunteers from the community who attend an all-day training that covers topics like the juvenile justice system, restorative justice principles, and motivational interviewing. Upon completing training, board members are charged with the task of having meaningful dialogue with the juvenile and their parent in a non-accusatory fashion, and are also asked to assist victims in expressing themselves and conveying to the juvenile the harm they have caused. All of this is done in manner that makes the victim, the juvenile, and the family feel safe and free from judgement. After meeting with the board, the youth and parent will enter into a reparative agreement contract that will include accountability to the victims and to the community and skill-building to help the youth avoid reoffending. Once all activities listed in the agreement have been successfully completed, an exit interview is held with the board members that the youth initially met with, and the case will then be considered successfully closed at the diversion level. The youth’s records will be sealed and the juvenile has avoided the necessity for Family Court involvement.