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Project Payback Program Description

Project Payback, in collaboration with community partners, provides meaningful projects for youth offenders to develop their work and social competencies while earning money to repay victims harmed by their criminal behavior.

Project Payback is committed to:

  • applying the values and principles of balanced and restorative justice in our practice;
  • providing a positive work environment for youth;
  • expanding and cultivating meaningful community partnerships, involvement, and projects;
  • holding youth offenders accountable to fulfill their restitution obligations to Clackamas County victims of juvenile offenses; and,
  • supporting youth in developing practical job skills, expanding pro-social attitudes, and strengthening confidence to find meaningful employment.

Program Overview

Clackamas County Juvenile Department (CCJD) is committed to the principles and values of Restorative Justice.  In practice this means our department is committed equally to the needs of victims of crime, the needs of the youth committing the offense, and the needs of the community in which the crime occurred.  We believe that the needs of each of these stakeholders are mutually dependent with the needs of the other.  The needs of each must be met in order to effectively meet the needs of any. Though addressing the financial burdens of crime victims is the primary purpose of Project Payback, the program strives to do this through work projects which are both building the work and social competencies of the referred youth while giving back to the communities impacted by juvenile offenses. 

Victims of Juvenile Offense
Victims of crime have clearly stated what issues are most important to them and the response they would like to receive from the justice system.  People who have been victimized by a criminal offense generally want: acknowledgement, information, a voice, and a choice to participate.  Project Payback primarily addresses the need of acknowledgement.   

Crime victims want to know the community takes seriously what has happened to them and is committed to responding in meaningful ways.  One form of acknowledgement from the system and from those that committed the harm is to have any financial losses repaid completely in a timely manner. When this occurs it is a form of acknowledging and being accountable to the financial burdens caused by the offense committed against them.  Project Payback is committed to provide opportunities for youth to earn money in order to fulfill their restitution obligations to their crime victims.

Juvenile Offenders
It is important that youth offenders are held meaningfully accountable for the negative impacts of their criminal behavior.  One of the most tangible ways for youth to put their harmful actions behind them is to repay any financial obligations incurred.  However, in a struggling economy, with little to no work experience, often having not completed high school, fulfilling this obligation in a timely manner can be challenging.  This set-up for failure can lead to shame, life-long financial obstacles through credit damage, and a shift from meeting the victim’s needs to focusing on their own victimization by the “system”.  It is this Department’s belief that we have an obligation to support youth in being meaningfully accountable.  Project Payback allows us to provide this support without minimizing the youth’s responsibilities to make things right.

As we are providing opportunities for youth to fulfill their financial obligations, the structure of Project Payback is built to simultaneously build the social and work competencies of the youth to be successful and contributing members of our community’s workforce.  This is accomplished through:

  • structured work days focusing on punctuality, attitude, communication, relationships, and safety;
  • meaningful projects which emphasize skill building and contributions to community; and,
  • classroom requirements at Clackamas Community College which expands the youth’s skill at resume writing, interviewing, and job searching.

Communities
Project Payback is structured to simultaneously attend to the community’s needs as crime victims, while also engaging the community in having an active role in providing the environment and opportunities necessary to reintegrate victims and offenders back into the community. 

When developing work projects with our partners, there is an emphasis put on projects which are meaningful to the community.  Projects which provide relief and support to community members in need, enhance public spaces, and/or support community activities or events, are valued and given priority over projects which do not meet these criteria.  The cost of these projects to the community is minimized through government and grant support.  By emphasizing these types of projects, and by keeping the costs low, youth are able to give back to the communities which are negatively impacted by their actions.

Communities also have an obligation to their citizens to provide an environment in which victims and offenders are independently and mutually supported in having their needs addressed after crime occurs.  Project Payback engages communities as active participants and partners in building and sustaining the work projects which simultaneously provide financial resources for victims to have their financial burdens addressed, and for youth offenders to be held meaningfully accountable.  Without Clackamas County community partners, Project Payback would not be successful in meeting its commitments and goals.

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Similar topics: juvenile restitution