Participants in the MARRS program progress through three phases.
Phase I: Mediation
Mediation involves a meeting between the victim, the juvenile offender and his/her parents, and volunteer mediators. The trained mediators facilitate the mediation sessions and assist in negotiating a restitution agreement between the victim and the offender. MARRS monitors the successful completion of the restitution agreement and mentors the youth to prevent future criminal behavior.
Phase II: Restitution
Because most offenders are too young to make monetary restitution, many restitution agreements require community service hours. The MARRS staff oversees the completion of the restitution to ensure its success. Also, during this phase, mentoring and relationship building takes place between the youth and MARRS staff and partners so that the youth will have a friend who cares, listens, and who can relate to them. The relationships as well as the outreach activities increase the likelihood that the offenders are not re-arrested or referred back to Juvenile Court.
Phase III: Character Development
In the character development phase, offenders participate in an eight week session designed to improve character and leadership traits among program participants. These sessions focus on life skills, leadership skills as well as the development of positive character traits such as attitude, respect, honesty, integrity, self-control, perseverance, and responsibility. This initiative began in November 2009 and 52 juveniles have successfully participated and completed the program. Pre- and post-survey questionnaires suggest a significant change in the values of the participants. This will ultimately influence their future behavior.
The Result: Reconciliation
By providing the offender with an opportunity to participate in positive, productive, and fun activities in his/her neighborhood and in the community, MARRS aims to assist in the reconciliation process. We develop a relationship with them by being where they are and by doing the things they like to do, and by exposing them to some things that they have not been accustomed to. We hang out in the mall, go out to eat, attend high school, college, and professional sports events, go camping, and maybe even form youth sports teams for competition.
When restitution is completed, MARRS forwards the case back to Juvenile Court. By allowing MARRS to handle the case, the offender increases the likelihood of having their juvenile record expunged, as long as there are no subsequent offenses. The desired result is the offender’s restitution with their community.