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Juvenile Justice Grant Helps Build Neighborhood Accountability Program to Restore Youths with Non-Violent Offenses
3/17/2003

FORT MYERS, FL - A new program designed to curb non-violent offenses by putting guilty youths’ cases in the hands of local Neighborhood Accountability Boards is gaining momentum in Southwest Florida thanks to a grant from the Department of Juvenile Justice to Florida Gulf Coast University’s Center for Public and Social Policy.

A Neighborhood Accountability Board is a juvenile justice innovation that involves community sanctioning and decision-making interventions that focus on bringing victims, offenders and community members together to develop a response aimed at repairing the harm caused by crime.

“Citizens, including community residents and stakeholders, are involved in developing and implementing these programs, thus, giving them a sense of ownership in what services are being delivered and how they are delivered,” Center director and noted national restorative justice expert Sandra O’Brien said.

“The NAB model is defining distinctive roles for citizens in determining what the obligation and terms of accountability will be, as well as how the reparative requirements may be carried out as part of a sanction. The NABs also focus on an increased role for victims, placing an emphasis on victim involvement.”

First time non-violent offenders, including charges of trespassing, retail or petty theft, loitering, criminal mischief, destruction of property, resisting without violence and breach of peace, are referred by the state attorney’s office to the NAB who then meets to develop a case plan for the youth.

A case plan may include assignments such as community service, counseling and restitution. If the youth does not successfully complete the case plan, the case is reverted back to the state attorney’s office for prosecution.

Lee County Human Services received an initial grant from DJJ to implement NABs in Lee County. O’Brien’s vision with the grant awarded to FGCU is to develop a circuit-wide model by expanding the NABs to the surrounding counties, including Charlotte, Collier, Glades and Hendry.

The first NAB in Collier County was assembled in North Naples with expansion into Marco Island and Immokalee.

Project staff are working to implement NABs in Englewood and the Murdock Mall retail area in Charlotte County and Port LaBelle in Glades County.

The goal of the Center is to enhance the community development and social well-being of the citizenry of the Southwest Florida region through public management assistance, applied research, policy analysis and public dialogue.

For more information, contact O’Brien at (239) 590-7835.

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