top of page
Juvenile Justice Programs

Page Menu

Juvenile Community Diversion
What is a Juvenile Hearing Board (JHB)?

Juvenile Hearing Boards are an innovative model for community diversion. Based in restorative justice, JHBs are community, police, mental health professionals and schools working together to link youth to services, counseling and positive alternatives. RICJ provides best practices training and support to build JHB success, especially in our urban core. Over time JHBs can decrease racial disparities in justice for youth of color, and build their success.


There have been active Juvenile Hearing Boards in at least 35 of RI’s 39 cities & towns.  When COVID hit, all JHBs closed.  By 2023 we were back up to 28 cities and towns, and slowly building back more.  JHBs hear about 400 cases per year across the state.  RICJ began working with JHBs in 2009 and in recent years, FCCP/Family Care Community Partnership agencies and Tides Family Services collaborated with JHBs for mental health services.  JHB outcomes are positive with low re-arrest rates for youth. JHB objectives are:

  • Reduce the number/percentage of juvenile cases referred to Family Court and ultimately reduce the number of system-involved youth in RI.

  • Reduce the likelihood that youth will re-offend. 

  • Improve competencies of youth offenders in areas such as school performance and behavior, family and peer relationships, anger management and other life skills.

  • Increase awareness of issues relating to youth and families within the community.

7 Typical Steps in a JHB Hearing
here is 7 steps.png
JHB Hearings
  • Will it appear on my on my record that I had a JHB hearing or that I plead guilty?
    No. There is no criminal record because the case never gets to court (A JHB holds no criminal records and the JHB is confidential.) There may be an arrest record-- however, those are typically destroyed within the year.
  • How long is the process from the moment I am arrested to when I know if I will be referred to the JHB?
    The length of the referral process may depend on which town/city the crime occurred in/which JHB will see you. Typically, youth are seen within a month. JHBs operating in urban areas may have a longer referral process.
  • Do I have to be a citizen to be referred to the JHB?
    No, you do not have to be a citizen to be referred to the JHB.
  • What if my parents don’t speak English?
    There are JHB members who speak different languages. In some events, translators are hired for the hearing.
  • Will the JHB send me to jail?
    No, the JHB will NOT send you to jail! The JHB is a community-based alternative to the system.
  • What happens if I do not comply with the agreement I signed during my hearing?
    If a juvenile does not comply with sanctions, this will be discussed at the follow-up hearing. After discussion, the JHB may decide that their case needs to be returned to court.
new jhb addition.jpg

For more information, check out these resources!

"Rhode Island RED" Project

In 2008, with support from the Rhode Island Justice Commission (now part of the RI Department of Public Safety), RICJ established a project addressing issues of Disproportionate Minority Contact in Rhode Island, called the Racial and Ethnic Disparities (RED) project. The RED Advisory Group first convened in 2008 to examine and recommend solutions for RI's juvenile justice system. Members represent law enforcement, courts, education, community, and juveniles.


Programs Developed by the Advisory Group

  • Cultural competency curriculum adaptable to the needs of all professionals working with juveniles 

  • Assisting municipalities to establish Juvenile Hearing Boards

  • Surveying school administrators on School Resource Officer (SRO) best practices

  • Revising and updating the Justice Commissions Juvenile Hearing Board Handbook

  • Working with RI Police Training Academy on training in Effective Interactions with Youth

  • Conducting Police-Youth dialogues

  • Increasing inter-agency coordination for service provision

  • Collaborating with public schools to plan youth-run restorative practices as part of school discipline

Civil Rights Roundtable

The RI Civil Rights Roundtable bring civil rights groups together for the purpose of joint advocacy.  The program was co-founded by our organization and the Providence NAACP in 1998. 


40 groups and individuals interested in civil rights in Rhode Island are part of the Roundtable's listserve, events and meetings.  RICJ organizes monthly meetings facilitated by Toby, that provide an opportunity to share information, support each other and work together on legislation, education and advocacy initiatives.  The Roundtable hosts an annual event on Dr. King's day, to present upcoming legislative agendas to inspire the community to action. 

Current Projects

The Civil Rights Roundtable is currently working toward the development of legislation that would provide for annual training in de-escalation and cultural competence for police.  For more information, please contact Dr. Toby Ayers.

bottom of page