By BERNADETTE LAURITZEN
Last month, the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board hosted a training in the area of restorative justice, to enhance programs across the state with a valuable tool.
“Our directive from CYFD was to open up our trainings at least regionally if not state wide,” said Ellen Ben-Naim, JJAB Co-coordinator, and the participation was grand.
Ben-Naim sent a request to her JJAB counterparts across the state for recommendations and Karel Mirabel and Rose Gordon of Taos, rose to the top of the list.
Restorative Justice is a community approach that allows an offender to be addressed by the parties harmed and come to a resolution based on the wisdom of the interaction.
It is an alternative to the formal juvenile justice system that builds the relationships, that often make youth offenders more successful to make better choices in the future.
The Family YMCA’s dynamic duo of Teen Center staff, Michelangelo Lobato and Daniel Yamada where on hand for the training.
“I believe that training through practice is a great way to teach any subject,” said Lobato, the Teen Center’s Director. “I believe that there were many ideas that could be used in not only RJ circles, but in dealing with various types of situations.”
Lobato has been in the facilitation seat with restorative justice for a long time but attended to refresh his skills, get new ideas and see how those new to the program are trained in the process.
Yamada who works with Lobato took a lead role, literally standing in as the offender, during the process.
Yamada’s relationship with local teens will serve him well as a facilitator, due to his ability to relate to youth, their daily life and in making good choices.
“I enjoyed the hands on demonstration and explanation of a practice circle, as well as hearing many different view points on how others have used conflict circles to resolve situations in their communities,” Yamada said.
While he signed up for the training to learn new and effective methods of conflict resolution, he found the methods incredibly useful.
“It will also be used by me as a team leader at the teen center, to positively resolve issues that arise between students,” Yamada said.
Our local teens are lucky to have such a dedicated staff, willing to take the time to bolster their efforts to build, Healthy Community, Health Youth.
Restorative justice training, held at Los Alamos High School was hosted by JJAB, Los Alamos County and CYFD for programs statewide. Photo by Bernadette Lauritzen