Providence, RI (June 7, 2021) – At the June 3rd City Council meeting, Council President John J. Igliozzi (Ward 7) introduced an amendment to the Juvenile Hearing Board (JHB) ordinance. Originally adopted in 1992, the ordinance was updated in 2016 to include the role of a volunteer hearing board coordinator.
The JHB was established to conduct hearings for residents under 18 years of age who have been charged with misdemeanor offenses, as a means of intervention before a juvenile’s case is funneled into the criminal justice system. Juvenile hearing boards across Rhode Island prioritize restorative justice and determine appropriate consequences, such as community service or other means of restitution.
The proposed amendments restructure the roles of board members and the coordinator, so that the JHB is able to operate consistently and effectively to support its goal of successfully resolving juvenile cases outside of the criminal courts.
“The Juvenile Hearing Board is an essential body which does the important work of overseeing juvenile proceedings. The primary goal is to improve outcomes for the young people of our city. To do this, we must ensure that cases are heard in a fair and timely manner, and that the board functions efficiently and judiciously for the benefit of the juveniles and families involved,” stated Council President John J. Igliozzi.
Among the changes in the ordinance are time limits for hearings; reduced hearing panel sizes; and annual reports designed to encourage continuous reviews and improvement of processes. Additionally, board members will be required to obtain a national background check prior to appointment, will participate in expanded pre- and in-service training, and will work collaboratively with community-based partners who have expertise in youth services to ensure that juveniles are connected with necessary supports and resources.
“The changes we’re proposing will modernize and adapt board operations to ensure alignment with best practices that provide the greatest opportunity for young people to be accountable and repair any harm done. I am optimistic that the revised ordinance will give the Juvenile Hearing Board better tools and knowledge to help Providence youth learn from their mistakes, take responsibility for their actions, and have a fresh start,” added Council President Igliozzi.
This ordinance has been referred to the Council Committee on Ordinances.