Justice &
Policy Reform

RICJ has several justice reform projects, primarily centered around juveniles. RICJ engages community, youth, court, educators, police, and other stakeholders to address racial disparities in juvenile justice and promote a bias-free system. Our primary Justice Reform programs include the RED (Racial and Ethnic Disparities) Advisory board, our work with Juvenile Hearing Boards across Rhode Island, training in Restorative Justice practices, and convening the RI Civil Rights Roundtable.

 

JUVENILE JUSTICE "RHODE ISLAND RED" PROJECT

In 2008, with support from the Rhode Island Justice Commission (now part of the RI Department of Public Safety), Rhode Island for Community & Justice (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

 

Support

This project is made possible by funding from the Rhode Island Justice Commission, Juvenile Justice Program and through the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. 

 

JUVENILE HEARING BOARDS

Juvenile Hearing Boards (JHBs) are panels of dedicated community volunteers (E.g. social workers, educators, parents) that review cases of youth who commit non-violent offenses. The boards order sanctions, including community service, counseling and/or mental health support as an alternative to having cases referred to court. Since 2008, Rhode Island for Community & Justice has been an active partner with police and JHBs, helping to establish boards across the state and providing continued support. The majority of cities/towns in Rhode Island have an active JHB. If you are interested in learning more, please contact us at jhb@ricj.org

Juvenile Hearing Boards (JHBs) are exemplary models of community diversion based in a restorative justice model. JHBs consist of members who live and work in the communities where they serve, costing the state of Rhode Island and federal government absolutely nothing. Police are able to form relationships with youth who would otherwise end up becoming system involved. When a youth successfully completes their sanction, the charge against them is dismissed and they have no court record. 
 

Juvenile Hearing Board Stakeholder Meetings:

 

It is our goal to provide space for dialogue, to share best practices, and to build relationships between those working with JHBs. We do this by providing meetings for stakeholders including juvenile detectives and JHB members. Additionally, we host statewide meetings to bring together JHB stakeholders from across Rhode Island.

For further information about JHBs, see our flyer and brochure below, or contact us at jhb@ricj.org.

 

JHB Flyer

JHB Brochure

 

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.