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Greene County to Implement New Mediation Program for Youth Offenders

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/greenecoun_214.mp3

Greene County is preparing to implement a new program aimed at bringing together young people who commit crimes and those impacted by the crimes. It's called a juvenile victim offender mediation program and it's expected to be in place by February. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

Greene County is preparing to implement a new program aimed at bringing together young people who commit crimes and those impacted by the crimes.

It's a juvenile victim offender mediation program and it's expected to be in place by February.

The Center for Dispute Resolution at Missouri State University is working with the juvenile division authorities to implement the program.

Charlene Berquist is director of the center and a faculty member for the communication department.

Starting December 8th, volunteers interested in becoming mediators will begin their training.

There are no educational requirements for mediators and more are needed.

Training will come from Dr. Mark Umbreit, who works at the University of Minnesota's Center for Restorative Justice and Peace Making. A grant from the Community Foundation of the Ozarks is making his visit possible.

Berquist says the work is rewarding and she hopes many volunteers will sign up to receive mediator training.

She says mediators work with offenders and victims who want to participate in the mediation program.

Berquist says similar programs around the country have had success.

And in terms of restorative justice, one way to define success is preventing an offender from committing crimes in the future.

She says a juvenile victim offender mediation program in a circuit court outside Kansas City is seeing positive results.

Berquist says the goal of mediation is to transform offenders and provide victims with resolution.

She recalls that happening in her first mediation case more than 20 years ago when two youth had burglarized the home of an elderly woman.

If you're interested in becoming a volunteer mediator, call the Center for Dispute Resolution at 417-836-8831.

Links:

  • Missouri State University's Center for Dispute Resolution