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History of Restorative Justice Policy and Legislation Initiatives

In 1974, Congress created the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Justice, to provide national leadership, coordination, and supplemental resources in preventing and responding to juvenile delinquency and victimization. The OJJDP further supports states and communities in their efforts to develop and implement effective and coordinated prevention and intervention programs and to improve the juvenile justice system in order to protect the public, hold justice-involved youth accountable, and provide treatment and rehabilitative services tailored to meet the needs of juveniles and their families. 1

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Two decades later, the Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ) Project, a national demonstration project funded by the OJJDP, worked with a number of state justice systems and stakeholders (i.e., Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, and others) to provide technical assistance and training to key decision makers and stakeholders in states seeking juvenile justice reform. The BARJ Project facilitated dialogue that was focused on the implementation of restorative principles and practices. 2

Since that time, states across the country have expanded legislation and policy adoption to meet the needs of the significant challenges facing the justice system. State legislatures and local jurisdictions have implemented policies and legislation to advance their commitment to restorative justice and justice reform. Implementation expands to include restorative practices, application to schools, and criminal and juvenile justice continuums.

Further, national organizations, including the American Bar Association, National of Community and Restorative Justice, National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges, National Council of Crime and Delinquency, and National Organization for Victim Assistance have endorsed restorative justice and its principles. The United Nations has also encouraged member nations to adopt restorative justice in the wake of crime and violence. This international organization has endorsed the basic principles of restorative justice and the promotion of a culture favorable to the use of restorative justice among law enforcement, judicial and social authorities, as well as communities across the world. 3


1. About OJJDP. Retrieved on March 25, 2016 from

2. Bazemore, Gordon and Mark Umbreit. (1998). Guide for implementing the balanced and restorative justice model. Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

3. Beck, Elizabeth, Lewinson, Terry, & Kropf, Nancy P. (2015). Restorative justice with older adults: Mediating trauma and conflict in later life. Traumatology: An International Journal 21(3), pp. 219-226.

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