What is the Juvenile Mediation Program (Delinquency Cases)?
The Juvenile Mediation Program (Delinquency Cases) is an opportunity for victims and offenders to meet face to face in a safe, controlled environment.
Trained mediators help the victims and offenders talk about the crime. The mediators guide a process for the victims and offenders to make a plan that restores the victim and the community.
The program is based on the principle of ‘Restorative Justice’. When we respond to crime in a restorative way, we consider everyone affected by the crime, including the victim, the community and the offender. The parties talk about the harm that was caused by the crime and work together to make a plan to make things as right as possible.
The San Mateo Superior Court administers the Juvenile Mediation Program (Delinquency Cases). The Mediation Program works closely with the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center (PCRC). PCRC provides trained volunteer mediators who help guide the mediation process. Mediation services are free.
What is victim/offender mediation?
Mediation is an opportunity for the victim(s) of a crime and the person(s) who committed the crime, to meet face to face. Two mediators will help them talk about how the crime affected each of their lives
What are the advantages of Offender-Victim Mediation?
- helps victims heal.
- repairs the damage caused by the crime.
- improves public safety.
- helps the offender to grow and learn.
- reduces the chances that the offender will commit another crime.
- lowers costs for the Juvenile Justice System.
Offender-Victim Mediation is based on the principles of Restorative Justice. This means allowing the victim, community and the offender an opportunity to be involved in the justice process by:
- participating in a process that identifies the harm caused by the crime;
- agreeing on what needs to be done to make things as right as possible; and
- holding the offender personally accountable for repairing the harm caused by the crime.
How does mediation help the offender?
Mediation gives the youth offender an opportunity to take responsibility for his/her actions by facing the victim(s) and working together to create a restitution agreement that is acceptable to both of them. Restitution allows the offender to be personally accountable.
How does mediation help the victim?
The victim gets a chance to ask questions that only the offender can answer (like, how and why they did it). Mediation is also an opportunity to express their frustrations and concerns. The victim works with the offender to decide on the restitution needed to cover their losses and to make things as right as possible.
How does the mediation process work?
Mediation is an opportunity for the victim(s) of a crime and the person(s) who committed the crime, to meet face to face. Two mediators will help them talk about how the crime affected their lives.
The victim gets a chance to ask questions that only the offender may be able to answer, like, how and why they did it. Mediation is also an opportunity for the victim to express their frustrations and concerns. The victim and the offender work together to decide on the restitution needed to cover the victim’s losses and to make things as right as possible.
Mediation gives the youth offender an opportunity to take responsibility for his/her actions by facing the victim(s) and working with the victim to create a restitution agreement that is acceptable to both of them. Restitution allows the offender to be personally accountable.
The mediators encourage good communication between the victim and offender. They do not give advice or make decisions. They help them explore and negotiate their own solutions. If the parties can agree on a solution, the mediator can put the agreement in writing.
How can I be referred to Offender-Victim Mediation?
Referrals can be made before or after the youth enters the formal justice system. If a first-time offender is referred right away, this may prevent the offender from entering the formal justice system.
Referrals to the program come from many sources. The agencies that typically refer youth offenders include:
- District Attorney
- Defense attorneys
- Victims and victim advocates
- Affected community members
- Law enforcement
- Youth Services Bureau
If you’ve been referred to the Juvenile Mediation Program, or if you are interested in using our services, contact the program manager.
What do the mediators do?
The mediators encourage good communication between the victim and the offender. They help people explore and negotiate their own solutions. The mediators are neutral. This means they do not favor one side over another. If the parties can agree on a solution, the mediator can put the agreement in writing.
Do I have to go to mediation?
Offenders must contact the program manager when they are referred to mediation. The program manager will tell them more about the program. The mediation will happen when all parties agree.
Victims do not have to go to mediation. Their participation is completely voluntary. But, we encourage them to hear about the program before making their decision.
Do the parents of an offender have to go to mediation?
We welcome parents and encourage them to go to the mediation site. But, parents do not have to go to mediation and they do not participate in the discussions between the parties.
What do the parents do at mediation?
Participants can ask for a break during mediation to talk to their parents. Parents can give their children emotional support and/or advice. Sometimes, the youth offender may need their parents’ support or cooperation if the mediation agreement impacts the parents in some way. For example, a youth offender can agree to do personal or community service and they might need their parents’ help for transportation.
Will the offender’s lawyer be present at mediation?
The offender can ask their lawyer to go to mediation. But, the lawyer cannot actively participate in the talks. Offenders are allowed to talk to their lawyers privately at any time during the mediation.
How much does it cost?
Juvenile delinquency mediation is free.
How long does the mediation last?
The sessions are usually 1 to 3 hours. It depends on how long the victim and offender are willing to spend on resolving the matter.
How many sessions will it take to come to an agreement?
It usually takes one session to come to an agreement. If you need more time, you and the mediators will decide when and where the next mediation will be.
Where are the mediation sessions held?
The sessions take place in a neutral location, like a conference room, in a library, community center or the mediation office. The program manager will let you know the location.
What if I do not feel safe meeting with the other person in mediation?
If anyone involved in mediation is afraid, the mediation can be scheduled in the conference room of a local police department. If necessary, the parties can be in separate rooms until they are less afraid.
Is the mediation confidential?
Yes. With limited exceptions, everything said in mediation is confidential. But, if a mediator learns of child abuse or threats of physical harm to others, the mediator will report this to the program manager. The program manager can report this information to other agencies or individuals.
What if a participant wants to share information about the mediation with a third party?
If all parties agree in writing, they can share information with a third party, like a parent, a relative, lawyer, or the probation officer.