CCLF’s Youth Restorative Program

Learn about the restorative justice program for youth aged 12-17 in Clark County, Nevada

By Consuelo Sanchez

The Clark County Law Foundation (CCLF) has served the community in law-related education for 30 years. CCLF’s mission is to empower Nevada, especially its youth, through education, outreach, and service. The Trial by Peers Program (TBP), CCLF’’s flagship program, was based on the Youth Court concept, which allowed first-time juvenile offenders charged with misdemeanors to be tried, defended, and sentenced by their peers. However, in 2019, the Nevada State Legislature passed Senate Bill 89 and Assembly Bill 168, which shifted the teen court model to restorative justice models. Per AB 168 and SB 89, school districts are to complete Progressive Discipline Plans and adopt restorative practices (RP) as alternatives to exclusionary disciplinary approaches (e.g., suspension, expulsion), which remove students from the academic environment and cause disruptions in their learning. Instead, restorative justice practices seek to repair the harm done when a standard of conduct is violated.

Since then, CCLF adopted elements of restorative practices into the TBP program to create the Youth Restorative Program (YRP) in 2021. This program is a resource tool that offers schools an alternative to conventional disciplinary policies. Our restorative justice model provides a best practice model of bringing together all parties who identify as stakeholders in the incident into a restorative justice circle. Within the circle, a licensed attorney volunteer will facilitate dialogue among the stakeholders, allowing everyone to share their perspectives on how the incident impacted them and what can be done to repair the harm.

YRP’s primary goals include holding youth accountable for their actions without disrupting the learning environment, repairing relationships between youth and victims, and reintegrating youth as responsible members of their communities. Guided by three key principles—accountability, cooperation, and competency development—YRP emphasizes accepting responsibility, collaborative consequences, and cultivating empathy and healthy coping mechanisms.

The program focuses on youth aged 12-17 in Clark County through two primary avenues. Initially, it addresses youth referred due to violations of school disciplinary policies, covering a spectrum of incidents like assault, theft, and code of conduct violations. Referrals to the program may stem from warnings issued by police or school staff members. During the restorative justice process, referred youth participate in dialogues where they share their perspectives on the incident and attentively listen to those impacted. This process promotes comprehension, acknowledgment of responsibility, expression of remorse, and initiatives to mend the harm, ultimately aiding in rebuilding trust within the school community.

The second avenue involves youth volunteers who serve as Youth Advocates for those referred to YRP. These advocates undergo an extensive summer training program covering legal system content, effective communication, negotiation, and critical thinking. They are trained in the restorative justice process by licensed attorneys who serve as mentors and providers of legal education and guidance. Through their voluntary participation in the program, Youth Advocates positively contribute to their community and peers and acquire valuable legal education and mentorship. Additionally, Youth Advocates attend Continuing Legal Education sessions hosted by YRP each month to sustain their knowledge and further enhance their advocacy skills.

Summer 2024 Schedule for YRP 

Our YRP summer session will be hosted every Thursday, from June 6 to July 25, at the State Bar of Nevada, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The Clark County Law Foundation expresses gratitude to our partners, the State Bar of Nevada and the Clark County Library, for their invaluable support during the summer training sessions. 

Attorneys and law students interested in volunteering as instructors for the upcoming YRP summer session or facilitating restorative justice circles are encouraged to reach out to us at YRPCoordinator@clarkcountylawfoundation.org.

About the author

Consuelo Sanchez joined Clark County Law Foundation as the Trial by Peers Program Coordinator in September 2021 and now serves as the Health & Equity Coordinator. For volunteering opportunities, please email consuelo@clarkcountylawfoundation.org.

About the article

© 2024 Clark County Bar Association (CCBA). All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. Editorial policy available upon request.

This article was originally published in the Communiqué (Mar. 2024), the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association. See https://clarkcountybar.org/about/member-benefits/communique-2024/communique-mar-2024/.

The articles and advertisements appearing in Communiqué magazine do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the CCBA, the CCBA Publications Committee, the editorial board, or the other authors. All legal and other issues discussed are not for the purpose of answering specific legal questions. Attorneys and others are strongly advised to independently research all issues.

Discover more from Clark County Bar Association

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Verified by MonsterInsights