Community Accountability Board
The objective of the Diversion/CAB program is to provide an alternative to the formal court process for youth. Typically the youth who are eligible for this program are first time minor offenders. The youth and their family are given an opportunity to meet with board members in a location in their home area. The volunteer community members are authorized to interview the youth and their families, review police reports, and assign consequences within set guidelines. An agreement is signed by the offending youth and the terms of the agreement are monitored by professional probation staff at the Juvenile Department. Most boards are held once a month and last approximately 2 hours.
The CAB program goals are:
- To hold youth accountable for their criminal behavior with consequences which are prompt, fair and consistent and without discrimination.
- To ensure that the rights of alleged juvenile offenders are protected through due process.
- To provide opportunities for community members to demonstrate their concern for youth.
- To provide support and information on resources available to youth and their families to deal with difficult situations and to help guide juvenile offenders to productive lives.
- To provide restitution for victims.
- To relieve court congestion and save taxpayer dollars.
WHAT IS A COMMUNITY ACCOUNTABILITY BOARD?
The Community Accountability Board, (CAB) process is a unique concept in working with juvenile offenders. The first Washington State diversion program began in Seattle in 1974, with the first CAB starting in Renton in 1979. The CAB concept is allowed by law pursuant to the passage of House Bill #371 in 1977. The design is actually two programs in one. First, it is a means of holding minor and first time offenders directly accountable for their own delinquent acts within their own communities. Second, it provides needed services to youth offenders. Through this combination of community accountability and youth services, we hope to provide a comprehensive program to meet the needs of juvenile offenders.
The accountability process is designed to keep the juvenile offenders from becoming repeat offenders by working with the CAB's. Juveniles may be offered the opportunity to enter a diversion agreement in lieu of prosecution. They will then meet with the CAB to discuss suitable consequences based on the juvenile's age, the seriousness of the offense(s), and the juvenile's criminal history.
CAB's are made up of citizens within each community. Juveniles appear before the CAB and upon entering into a Diversion Agreement, may be required to do one or more of the following conditions: perform non-compensated community service work for any local, non-profit organization as a way of "paying back" the community, make restitution to victims for actual damages, pay a fine, attend counseling, and/or attend educational or informational sessions. In addition, with the passage of recent legislation, CAB's may impose a variety of behavioral conditions (e.g. school and residence requirements, curfew, no contact orders, geographical restriction, etc). The CAB may also elect to "Counsel and Release" the youth in lieu of a Diversion Agreement, in this case, the youth may not be required to do any of the previously mentioned conditions. Also, at any time before the Diversion Agreement, or the Counsel and Release is signed, the youth or the CAB may decline diversion. In this case, the file would be forwarded to the Prosecutor for possible filing of formal charges. The diversion interview and agreement will be kept confidential, except for required school notifications as provided in the juvenile code, but will count towards the juvenile's criminal history.
The benefits of this approach are twofold; community members become active participants in the effort to curtail juvenile crime in their own community and also gain some insight through dealing with each offender. In addition, the juvenile offenders are made aware of the direct relationship between crime and the people or groups of people affected by their delinquent actions.
The juvenile offender thus assumes direct responsibility for their crime, has the opportunity to make amends to the victim(s) and the community, and can emerge from the experience with a sense of community awareness and responsibility.
Referrals to the diversion unit are screened for legal sufficiency by the Area Diversion Manager. The first contact with the juvenile and his/her parents will be made by the Diversion Coordinator, for the purpose of explaining the diversion program to them and to advise the juvenile of his/her rights, to determine if the juvenile and parents wish to participate in diversion and appear in front of the CAB, or to take the matter to court. The juvenile will be given the opportunity for consultation with an attorney at public expense, prior to deciding whether to choose the Diversion option.
The main effort of the CAB volunteers in cooperation with the Juvenile Diversion Program is to ensure that each juvenile receives a fair hearing, a just disposition, direct accountability to their local community, and is provided with the services necessary to assist the juvenile to carry out the diversion agreement.
For information about applying to be a CAB member in your area, call (509) 422-7250