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Tucson LINKS: Partners

Community Justice Boards

Tucson LINKS teams with Pima County Attorney's office to start two new Community Justice Boards in the fall.

Tucson LINKS has entered into a partnership the Crime Prevention Unit of the Pima County Attorney's office to create new Community Justice Boards (CJBs) this fall in the neighborhoods surrounding Wright Elementary School and Coyote Trail Elementary School.

Community Justice Boards bring neighborhoods together to combat crime by empowering residents to hold young first- and second-time offenders accountable for their actions. By allowing neighborhood representatives to determine the consequences, they gain some control over their own safety and a sense of wellness. Offenders, by agreeing to meet the proscribed conditions, can clear their records and get on with their lives.

The County Attorney's office already operates five CJBs in other parts of the Tucson metropolitan area. These have been in operation for between two and five years. The LINKS boards would bring the Tucson total to seven. The LINKS partnership will yield at least two more Community Justice Boards.

The boards usually meet every two weeks and consist of five to 10 volunteer residents of the neighborhoods in the immediate vicinity of each location. The boards provide eligible youth offenders with a strength- and resiliency-based alternative to prosecution through the Pima County Juvenile Court system.

Youth offenders referred to the boards by juvenile court probation officers or school resource officers (SROs) meet with the boards in "family conferences." The juveniles and their parents/guardians must agree to participate. Community members, other family members and victims are welcome to participate in the process. The process is designed to hold the juveniles accountable for their actions, help them understand the effects their actions have on the community and provide them with opportunities to repair the harm. Referrals to the boards are primarily for "quality-of-life" crimes, such as graffiti, theft, property damage, shoplifting, truancy, disturbing the peace, simple assault and minor drug, alcohol and tobacco violations.

Two Community Justice Board specialists, hired by the County Attorney's office, recruit, train, monitor and consult with board volunteers. The CJBs do not exist simply as an intervention strategy, but "they help develop protective factors in juveniles," said Community Justice Programs director Bob Holliday. "You can't just repair the harm. You have to look at competency building."

If you would like to participate, or would like more information about the boards, call 740-5600 or visit www.pcao.co.pima.az.us/outreach.shtml


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