Earlier this month, the Board of State and Community Corrections awarded the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office $1 million to establish a county-wide juvenile diversion pre-filing program. This diversion program will be the first county-wide program for Contra Costa County and comes on the announcement earlier this spring that our Office was starting a pilot program in Richmond for the fall of 2019. The BSCC grant will enable the pilot program in Richmond to be expanded and eventually taken county-wide.
The District Attorney’s Office joins the Contra Costa County Department of Probation, the RYSE Youth center, and Impact Justice to initiate a restorative justice program that will redirect youth from the juvenile and criminal justice system over a period of four years. The program will work with young people who have committed crimes and bring them together with those they have impacted in the community in order to atone for damages made and rebuild relationships.
“I am proud to have this program for the first-time ever in our county’s history. Our Office has a crucial role to play in reducing the pipeline into the juvenile justice system while at the same time reducing disparities in the entire criminal justice system. We have to invest in our youth to ensure they have other opportunities in their lives,” said District Attorney Diana Becton.
With the help of RYSE, the program hopes to lower recidivism rates, increase victim satisfaction, improve the youths’ relationships with their families, and lower incarceration and probation costs. Youth will learn about accountability and healing, as well as, how to establish trusting relationships with adults and authority figures. During the restorative justice process, RYSE will provide the victim and the youth offender with wrap-around services along with a facilitator for each person involved in the case.
By providing troubled youths with more resources and opportunities, Contra Costa hopes to divert up to 230 youths away from the juvenile justice system. A similar program in the Bay Area proved to be successful. Alameda County’s restorative justice program was remarkably successful as recidivism rates decreased; youths who participated in the program were 44 percent less likely to recidivate compared to similarly situated probation youth. The program carries a one-time cost of $4,500 per case while probation costs $23,000 per year and incarceration costs nearly $500,000 annually.