Working with Youth & Victims of Crime to Rebuild and Restore Community
The Center for Restorative Youth Justice (CRYJ) is a nonprofit organization based in Kalispell, Montana that works one-on-one with youth offenders and victims of juvenile crime to create opportunities for true accountability, deeper community connections, and access to important support and empowerment opportunities that result in real change.
With a base of 7 staff and more than 30 incredible volunteers—CRYJ’s programming provides empowering opportunities for youth to not only experience direct accountability (to victims and to our community), but also the foundational and strengths-based support necessary to enhance a sense of connection and belonging within our broader community.
Through innovative restorative programming, CRYJ brings together those most affected by a crime—creating opportunities for dialogue and powerful healing. We believe in justice and crime prevention which focuses on the people and communities harmed by a crime as opposed to focusing only on what laws were broken and fines imposed by the court system. Many of the youth we work with face tremendous challenges in their world—including homelessness, drug use/abuse, dysfunctional family dynamics, and low academic commitment. For many, these risks and realities can translate into delinquency and crime. CRYJ’s programs aim to not only provide powerful and individualized accountability options for youth that result in real change—but also to empower youth to build on existing strengths and resiliencies that allow them to overcome these challenges and to become the best versions of themselves.
Over the past 4 years, CRYJ has served over 850 youth – 90% complete our program, and only 5% go on to commit additional crimes. Since our restorative programming began in 2009 – in large part due to the leadership of our Juvenile Probation – Flathead County has witnessed a 60% decrease in the number of youth who go on to reoffend, and a 75% reduction in the amount of State Funding spent on juvenile incarceration and delinquency. This translates to a cost savings of more than $500,000 over 5 years— which allows more money to be spent on prevention and community-based support services for youth and families.