Certain juveniles in Salina, Kansas, will now have an opportunity to restore their communities and their victims after they run afoul of the law.

Salina County has authorized referrals of some first-time juvenile offenders to a restorative justice initiative. The juvenile will be required to pay a $50 fee, after which he or she will participate in mediation with the victim. A volunteer community member will also attend each mediation to represent the interests of the community.

The mediation will produce a justice plan, which sets out what the juvenile needs to do to make the victim or the community whole once again. Such plans often include community service, financial restoration, or other requirements designed to hold the juvenile accountable for his or her actions while realizing the true consequences of those actions.

If the juvenile successfully completes the justice plan, the charges are dismissed, and the juvenile is able to avoid a delinquency record. If not, formal adjudication may sometimes resume.

Restorative justice is an excellent way to increase the role of the victim in both criminal and juvenile justice systems. To be sure, a victim is the only aggrieved party in many crimes, and their needs and considerations should be the focal point of the justice system.