Since Franklin County began its juvenile detention reform work, referrals and admissions to the Franklin County Juvenile Court have declined. Despite this, there are still a significant number of referrals and admissions of moderate risk juveniles, particularly for misdemeanor offenses. Thus, in 2011, further study was given to integrating restorative justice in Franklin County’s youth diversion program. In Franklin County, Restorative Justice Circles (established in August 2013) aim to prevent further juvenile delinquent behavior by implementing restorative practices and the principles of restorative justice through community recommended interventions that promote youth accountability and responsibility. Community Restorative Circles (CRC) now act as an arm to the Court bringing together the juvenile offender and his/her parent(s), the victim (if applicable), and members of the community. Restorative justice circles address the needs of youth, the victim, and the community by developing a holistic understanding of the youth and the circumstances that led to the offense.
Franklin County Juvenile Court partnered with the United Way of Central Ohio to make the Community Restorative Circles a reality. United Way supported the incorporation of a volunteer training course for interested community members to become Community Restorative Circle volunteer members in partnership with their Neighborhood Training Academy. In addition, the United Way Neighborhood Partnership Center has served as a resource for volunteer recruitment and engagement. United Way provided a one-time award to make the program a reality. With the funds obtained from United Way, the program was able to hire the Restorative Justice Program Coordinator and enter into a contract with Capital University Law School to provide for the creation of the Community Restorative Circles curriculum utilizing restorative justice practices and to facilitate trainings and technical support for Circle volunteers.
In December 2014, United Way agreed to pledge their on-going support of the volunteer training courses as well as recruitment and engagement of community members. The program also continues to contract with Capital University Law School to assist with regularly evaluating the program, New Volunteer Training courses, Refresher Training courses and technical support for existing Circles.