Program Philosophies Utilized in New Hampshire
Restorative Justice outlines an alternative philosophy for addressing crime. When viewed from a restorative lens, crime is a violation of people and relationships – the relationships between the offender and his or her family, friends, victims, and the community – as opposed to merely an act against the state (Zehr, 1990).
Teen Courts are structured to provide positive alternative sanctions for first-time offenders by providing a peer-driven sentencing mechanism that allows young people to take responsibility, to be held accountable, and to make restitution. Positive peer pressure is used in youth courts to exert influence over adolescent behavior.
Traditional Diversion in New Hampshire is a form of sentencing designed to enable youth offenders of criminal law to avoid criminal charges and a criminal record through having volunteer panels design consequences. The purposes of diversion are generally thought to include relief to the courts, police department and probation office, better outcomes compared to direct involvement of the court system, and an opportunity for the offender to avoid prosecution by completing various requirements for the program.
Mediation/Counseling Victim Offender Mediation is a voluntary and confidential process through which victims are able to meet with their offender(s) in a monitored, neutral environment to help them verbalize the impact of the crime and understand its repercussions. The issue of restitution can also be addressed in mediation. The role of the mediators is to provide guidance on the art of listening and communicating, not to make recommendations or suggestions on how to resolve the issues. Counseling services are provided by skilled therapists to help the youth explore their behavior toward making better choices.