Rhode Island Juvenile Hearing Boards
What is a Juvenile Hearing Board (JHB)?

A Juvenile Hearing Board (JHB) is a community-based diversion program. Members of the JHB are community volunteers who are residents of the town. The goal is to divert youth arrested for lower level offenses from Family Court, providing sanctions and referral. Typically, the restorative justice meetings are 30-45 minutes, and then have a 15-30 minute follow-up 3 months later. The JHB has three goals: Restorative Justice, Prevention, and Community Investment. 


There are active Juvenile Hearing Boards in 30 of RI’s 39 cities and towns. The JHB typically hears about 400+ cases per year across the state. The Rhode Island Justice Commission began JHBs by funding Coordinators. Unfortunately, the funding ran out in the early 2000s. RICJ began working with JHBs in 2009. Juvenile Hearing Boards are extremely important for the community. The general hearing board objectives are:

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

  • To increase victim satisfaction and (if appropriate) potential involvement with youth offenders.

  • To reduce the likelihood that juvenile offenders will commit future crimes.

  • To 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.

The7 Typical Steps in a JHB Hearing 
Eligibility Requirements 
  • Appropriate cases for JHB review/Eligible cases include youth who:

    • are referred to the Hearing Board. 

    • are under the age of 18

    • are alleged to have committed a criminal act which, if committed by an adult, would be a misdemeanor.

    • reside and attend school in the city/town where JHB operates 

    • sign a statement that they are guilty of charges in the question (parents or legal guardians must sign the same statement)

    • sign a statement waiving their right to a Family Court hearing (parents or legal guardians must sign the same statement)

    • sign a statement agreeing to appear before the Board and abide by the Board’s decision, and acknowledge that if they fail to comply with sanctions ordered by the Board, the case may be referred back to Family Court, and or the police department (parents or legal guardians must sign the same statement)

  • If the youth has appeared before the JHB on one previous occasion, they must have successfully completed all ordered sanctions, and their most recent alleged misconduct must fall into either the category of misdemeanor or truancy.

  • Inappropriate cases for JHB review/Not Eligible cases include youth who:

    • have been previously been adjudicated wayward/delinquent by Family Court 

    • are under Family Court jurisdiction at the time of the alleged offense;

    • are accused of drug offenses other than possession of alcohol;

    • are charged with a felony or serious violations. 

    • have been referred to the Hearing Board on one prior occasion and have not fully complied with all sanctions ordered by the Board; or

    • have been referred to the Hearing Board on two prior occasions, regardless of whether all sanctions ordered by the Board have been complied with.

    • have been previously found guilty by Family Court of commission on a felony.

For more resources, check out the following links:
  • Juvenile Hearing Board members
  • JHBs and COVID-19


T: 401.467.1717

E: ricj@ricj.org

271 North Main Street

Providence, RI  02903

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