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Holland-based Mediation Services hopes to keep juveniles out of the justice system

Holland-based Mediation Services hopes to keep juveniles out of the justice system

Volunteers at Holland’s Mediation Services spend most of their time working through conflict. But most recently, the organization is taking aim at restorative justice.

First-time juvenile offenders in Ottawa County will have an opportunity to avoid a juvenile court record with the creation of the RH² — the Repair Harm and Restore Hope Program.

The program, organized by Mediation Services, was recently awarded $20,000 by the Community Foundation of the Holland/Zeeland Area for its efforts to encourage restorative justice.

“We are grateful for this investment from the CFHZ,” said executive director Elizabeth Scott. “This grant means we can now offer young offenders a better way forward, which helps to strengthen our entire community.”

Restorative justice focuses on juvenile offenders, encouraging them to take responsibility for their actions by hearing the victims’ perspective and learning how their lives were impacted.

“The goal is to address the harm the juvenile caused in a restorative way and allow the juvenile the opportunity to avoid entering into the juvenile justice systems,” said Lee Fisher, prosecuting attorney for Ottawa County.

The program is made possible by the continued growth and work of Mediation Services. The nonprofit organization has provided conflict resolution services for almost 30 years and created the program with the goal of restoring hope for both the victim and their juvenile offenders.

Read the complete article here.

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