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Fairfax/Manassas Criminal & Personal Injury Blog

Is it good for society when defendants are given long prison sentences or other severe penalties for crimes they committed while they were minors? A growing number of American communities say no.

In the past, many politicians argued that the best way to crack down on juvenile crime was to lock up young defendants. It's an open question whether this approach really had a positive effect on crime statistics, but there is no doubt that this harsher approach juvenile crimes can lead to wasted lives, not to mention high costs for the taxpayers who must pay to keep people locked up.

More recently, Virginia lawmakers and activists are exploring a different solution known as restorative justice.

Restorative justice is based on the idea that people who have been convicted of crimes or juvenile offenses should be made to repair the harm they have caused to others. Rather than punishment, this approach emphasizes public safety and personal responsibility. It may be especially important in the case of young offenders.

Fairfax County has a restorative justice program as part of its efforts to divert juveniles from the traditional system. It involves not only prosecutors, but also police officers and others who are in a position to help.

The program is not available for every type of offense, nor for every defendant, and it is somewhat controversial among the larger public. However, it can be an option for some people facing charges in the juvenile justice system.

Young people who are accused of crimes can learn about their options by talking to a lawyer with experience in juvenile justice defense. A smart defense can help you limit the long-term damage criminal charges can do to your life.

Source: Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, "Getting Restorative Justice Approved By Your State Political Body Is Worth The Trouble," Sen. Dave Marsden, Sept. 27, 2017

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