Juvenile Victim-Offender Mediation

by Center for Conflict Resolution
Juvenile Victim-Offender Mediation
May 10, 2016

Not About the Liquor

Javon was 16 when his dad died. That was seven months ago; since then, he had been regularly stealing from individuals and businesses in his neighborhood. 

Javon had lived with his dad up until his death, but now he was back with his mom who would come and go without saying where she was for days at a time. She was a known drug user and Javon was essentially on his own. 

He got arrested for stealing liquor from the corner store by his aunt’s house earlier in the winter. Javon’s probation officer thought it would be helpful for him to go through mediation, so the officer referred him to CCR. Representatives from the store declined to come to the mediation; however, CCR was still able to provide a Family Mediation to Javon, his mom, Latisha, and his aunt, Rose. 

Rose was instrumental in getting both Javon and Latisha to the mediation. Once they were there, the mediator began asking some questions giving all three a chance to explain how this incident had affected their family. 

Javon explained how his dad had taught him right from wrong, but now that he was on his own, he had to take care of himself as best as he could. Since his mom wasn't around much, he figured he could do whatever he wanted or needed to do. Stealing from the liquor store was one way to make extra money for stuff he needed because he could sell it to other kids at school. 

Latisha mentioned that she tried to keep an eye on Javon, but since they hadn't lived together for years, he resisted her attempts to stay informed on what he was doing and keep him out of trouble. She wanted more say-so in his coming and goings as well as an improvement in the respect he gave her. 

Rose explained how her brother's death had left a void in the family and that he had been a strong link holding things together. She had tried to pick up this role since his death, but it was difficult with her own children and job needing much of her time. 

Throughout all of this, the mediator was able to help the parties identify the things that were most important for them and discuss some options for pursuing those interests. 

For Javon, it was important to have some autonomy to make his own decisions and prove that he could stand on his own. Even still, he was willing to have more communication with his mother about what was going on for him, and he wanted support from her, but he didn't think it was fair for her to come and go on a whim, yet still demand authority over his actions. He ultimately wanted to go to college and get a job working with computers, but he also wasn't sure how to make that happen.

For Latisha, it was important to have her authority as a mother respected, but she recognized that she wasn't always around and Javon was nearing that stage of early adulthood where he was making a lot of decisions for himself.

Rose's interest was simply to improve the dynamics of the family since her brother's death and make sure to keep Javon out of trouble so he didn't end up going down a path that so many of his contemporaries did with crime, drugs, jail or death.

By highlighting all of these interests for them and helping them think through alternatives and potential pitfalls of the kind of behavior that led them to this conversation, the mediator was able to assist them in writing up an agreement about what to do to improve things. 

Javon agreed to a typical curfew of 9:30 p.m., with the option of calling his mom to let her know if he wanted to stay out until 10:30 p.m. Latisha agreed to help Javon investigate a couple of different City Colleges and take him to the one he chose to enroll in classes when the time came. Rose agreed to be a back up support in case Javon couldn't reach Latisha, and that she would check in with both of them every couple of weeks to see how things were going.

When the mediation was finished, they all agreed that it had been helpful to talk out some of these issues which they had never sat down to discuss since the father's death. They were all certain that the thieving wasn't productive or helpful for Javon, and now they had some supports in place to help him make better decisions and pursue his goals. 

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Center for Conflict Resolution

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
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Project Leader:
Cassandra Lively
Chicago, IL United States
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