The Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) approach introduced first in 1993 through a grant to Florida Atlantic University (FAU) began as a national initiative of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). It seeks to serve juvenile offenders with a perspective to achieve restoration or a guaranteed favorable return to reverse their once delinquent behavior. It serves juvenile offenders providing them with a rehabilitation role instead of retribution role.
BARJ addresses the risk and protective factors and/or special needs of juvenile offenders by instructing them to be accountable for their actions; they must develop a level of competency, so they can be more responsible and realize the destructibility of their behavior, and how the balance of the two makes them a conducive representative in society. Some risk factors often experienced by juvenile offenders are substance abuse, antisocial behavior, family dysfunction or family conflicts, poor school performance, and/or poor choice of community involvement. Protective factors are sparse in some families and communities, but protective factors overshadow risk factors. Having a low tolerance towards negativity, loving and devoted parents or family interaction, outstanding school performance, being socially inclined are protective factors, thus cutting a juvenile’s chance of becoming an offender.
Juvenile offenders, victims, and the community are the primary members involved in the BARJ treatment, but Juvenile justice professionals play a vital role as well. The juvenile justice professionals ensure offenders complete the restorative requirements as outlined by BARJ treatment. The main and most influential restorative requirement of the offender is to build a rapport with the victim. Juvenile justice professionals will also attempt to identify with offenders by finding out their strengths or weaknesses, then advise them on how to build from the strengths or build up the weaknesses. Juvenile justice professionals’ views often seek to consider the offender’s community because proper placement and the community’s supervisory role need to be a part of the treatment process as well. The victim’s role is somewhat simple, but exclusive at the same time because they come face to face with the offenders to work through their emotions and the crime that inflicted upon them by the offender. During the face-to-face meeting, victims have the option to forgive and reconcile with their offender so the healing process can begin and regain normalcy in their lives. The community seeks to improve involvement with juveniles by providing a shared responsibility for them through support and supervision, providing employment, and education.
The framework to address any potential complications with implementation of BARJ is to ask questions, do the research by looking into where it is currently in use, perform a series of tests or comprehensive assessments and record the results, and if...