In 1997, two long-time child law attorneys on the faculty at Northwestern University School of Law’s Children and Family Justice Center, developed Community Panels for Youth. It is the first juvenile court diversion program in Chicago based on restorative justice. The attorneys expanded the program into eight Chicago communities. They eventually decided it was time to form an independent organization. With the support of Northwestern, the Community Justice for Youth Institute (CJYI) was incorporated in Illinois in October of 2003. CJYI became an independent 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation in June of 2006. The organization currently has four full-time staff members and works in close collaboration with a number of local and national restorative justice trainers. CJYI installed its founding board of directors in February of 2007.
As an independent organization, CJYI has expanded its program to include regular trainings in restorative justice and peace-making circles; technical assistance in the implementation of restorative practices in schools, communities, and the juvenile justice system; and advocacy around disproportionate minority contact with the juvenile justice system (DMC) and the school-to-jail pipeline.
Community Justice for Youth Institute values:
- Responding to youth crime by addressing the harm and meeting the needs of youth, victims and communities
- Engaging communities in the resolution of conflicts involving their youth
- Advocating for youth to have access to resources and opportunities to reach their full potential
- Helping to build strong community relationships as a means to keep communities safe