Repairing Harm from Youth Offenses in the Community

The Fairfax County Alternative Accountability Program (AAP) is a collaborative and community-oriented response to juvenile crime and wrongdoing in our community and schools. Fairfax County School Resource Officers, as well as Patrol Officers in the Mt. Vernon, West Springfield, and Franconia Districts, may refer youth who commit select crimes to this program. The AAP uses the principles of restorative justice to focus on:

  • Holding young offenders accountable by directly involving them in the repair of the harm they caused to the victim, community, themselves and their families;
  • Victims’ needs as related to the harm caused by the incident.

The AAP represents a joint effort between Fairfax County Schools, Police, Juvenile Courts, Neighborhood and Community Services, and NVMS.  The program is designed to address critical issues affecting our youth including:

  1. Decreasing recidivism amongst youth offenders
  1. Addressing minority overrepresentation in discipline and justice proceedings,
  1. Interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline experienced by some youth who engage in criminal activities at an early age
What Happens Next?

Once our trained facilitators receive a referral from a Fairfax County patrol officer or SRO, they will contact all those involved/affected by the incident of harm to invite them to participate in a restorative justice process. Participation is voluntary.

The Restorative Justice Process

A restorative justice conference allows all individuals involved and affected by an incident of harm to engage in a facilitated and safe conversation about:

  • who has been harmed,
  • the consequences of the harm,
  • how the harm can be repaired and future harm prevented

Trained and experienced restorative justice facilitators will first conduct separate pre-conferences. At these pre-conferences, the facilitators meet with each of the participants to understand their individual perspectives about the incident, their needs, and their willingness and readiness to meet jointly with the other participants.

In the joint restorative justice conference, the facilitators help participants engage in a safe and confidential conversation about the incident of harm. They will assist the participants in constructing an agreement that repairs the harm (as much as feasible) and restore affected relationships.

Participation in a restorative justice process remains voluntary. You have the option of terminating the session at any time if you don’t feel that it is an appropriate venue for you.

Pre-conferences and joint conferences are scheduled at a date, time, and location most convenient to all participants (including evenings and weekends). Locations may include schools, neighborhood community centers, police stations, or other available Fairfax County facilities.

For more information on restorative justice and to see videos of the process, visit Fairfax County Public Schools’ restorative justice website at: http://www.fcps.edu/dss/ips/ssaw/violenceprevention/rj/

Our Facilitators

All facilitators have been trained by NVMS trainers, who have had nearly a decade of experience delivering restorative justice services in Fairfax County and other nearby jurisdictions. The facilitators are professionals drawn from the ranks of NVMS, Fairfax County Schools and Fairfax County Juvenile Courts.

Regardless of their profession, all facilitators will only act as facilitators and will maintain the appropriate neutral stance throughout to preserve the integrity of the process.

Voluntary Participation

Participation is AAP is completely voluntary. Should the referred youth choose not to participate in the program, the referring police officer has the option of pursuing the traditional means of juvenile justice.

To learn more about Fairfax Juvenile Justice proceedings, visit their website at: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/courts/jdr/jdrjuvenileintake.htm

This program is supported by the Fairfax County Consolidated Community Funding Pool.