Between agency and accountability :

Between agency and accountability :

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Between agency and accountability : an ethnographic study of volunteers participating in a juvenile diversion program
Settembrino, Marc
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[Tampa, Fla]
University of South Florida
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Subjects / Keywords:
Juvenile delinquency
Restorative justice
Dissertations, Academic -- Sociology -- Masters -- USF ( lcsh )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


ABSTRACT: Since the 1970s, the United States has witnessed a great expansion of community-based restorative justice programs. These programs serve as alternatives to the traditional court and probation system. Unlike the traditional justice system, restorative justice focuses on repairing harm done by an offense and works toward restoring the offenders to good standing in the community. While there is a significant amount of research which has examined the effectiveness of community-based programs, relatively little research has focused on the community volunteers who participate in these programs. I conducted an ethnographic study (observations and interviews) of community volunteers participating in a juvenile diversion program called. My research shows that NAB members encourage offending youths to make better choices in the future. They explain to the teens that with every choice one makes comes a reward or punishment. Specifically, NAB members encourage youths to obey the law, work hard, and have a good attitude. Yet my findings also indicate that NAB members are aware of environmental factors, such as family and schools, which may limit the choices actually available to youths and influence their decision making. Ultimately, these findings represent a contradiction in which NAB members encourage youths to subscribe to middle-class values despite the fact that there may be structural obstacles which impede youths from doing so.
Thesis (MA)--University of South Florida, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Marc Settembrino.

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Between agency and accountability :
b an ethnographic study of volunteers participating in a juvenile diversion program
h [electronic resource] /
by Marc Settembrino.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains X pages.
Thesis (MA)--University of South Florida, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
3 520
ABSTRACT: Since the 1970s, the United States has witnessed a great expansion of community-based restorative justice programs. These programs serve as alternatives to the traditional court and probation system. Unlike the traditional justice system, restorative justice focuses on repairing harm done by an offense and works toward restoring the offenders to good standing in the community. While there is a significant amount of research which has examined the effectiveness of community-based programs, relatively little research has focused on the community volunteers who participate in these programs. I conducted an ethnographic study (observations and interviews) of community volunteers participating in a juvenile diversion program called. My research shows that NAB members encourage offending youths to make better choices in the future. They explain to the teens that with every choice one makes comes a reward or punishment. Specifically, NAB members encourage youths to obey the law, work hard, and have a good attitude. Yet my findings also indicate that NAB members are aware of environmental factors, such as family and schools, which may limit the choices actually available to youths and influence their decision making. Ultimately, these findings represent a contradiction in which NAB members encourage youths to subscribe to middle-class values despite the fact that there may be structural obstacles which impede youths from doing so.
Advisor: Margarethe Kusenbach, Ph.D.
Juvenile delinquency
Restorative justice
Dissertations, Academic
x Sociology
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
4 856


Between Agency and Accountability: An Ethnographic Study of Volunteers Participating in a Juvenile Diversion Program By Marc R. Settembrino A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Sociology College of Arts & Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Margarethe Kusenbach, Ph.D. James Cavendish, Ph.D. Jennifer Friedman, Ph.D. Date of Approval: July 19, 2010 Keywords: crime, juvenile delinquency, restorative justice, volunteers Copyright 2010, Marc R. Settembrino


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I cannot thank my advisor Maggie Kusenbach enough for the time and energy she has put into making this thesis a success. Without her patience, guidance, and support I doubt I could have made it through this process. I would also like to thank my committee members Jim Cavendish an d Jenny Friedman for their time and support of my project. I must also thank the members of the Neighborhood Accountability Boards who graciously welcomed me into their community, without their support this project would have been impossible. Completing this thesis has been a long and challenging road and I would like to thank my dear friends and fellow students Anastacia Schulhof, Hilary Dotson, and Cheryl DeFlavis for keeping me sane along the way.


i TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ ii ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... iii CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ........................ 1 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ ............. 6 CHAPTER 3: METHODS ................................ ................................ ................................ 12 Access ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 12 Methods and Data ................................ ................................ ...................... 12 Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 16 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ 17 CHAPTER 4: SETTINGS AND BACKGROUND INFORMATION ............................. 19 CHAPTER 5: CHOICES AND CONSEQUENCES ................................ ......................... 25 Obeying the Law ................................ ................................ ........................ 27 Working Hard ................................ ................................ ............................ 34 Having a Good Attitude ................................ ................................ ............. 46 CHAPTER 6: ENVIRONMENTAL OBSTACLES AND DECISION MAKING ........... 53 Family Obstacles ................................ ................................ ........................ 54 School Personnel and Policies ................................ ................................ ... 63 CHAPTER 7: CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ .......................... 70 REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 77 APPENDICIES ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 81 Appendix A: Interview Guide ................................ ................................ .... 82 Appendix B: Table of Cases Observed ................................ ...................... 83 Appendix C: Interview Participant Profiles ................................ ............... 84


ii LIST OF FIGURES 4 .1 Trajectory of a NAB Case ................................ ................................ ................ 22


iii ABSTRACT Since the 1970s the United States has witnessed a great expansion of community based restorative justice programs. These programs serve as alternatives to the traditional court and probation system Unlike the traditional justice system restorative justice focuses on repairing harm done by an offense and work s to ward restor ing the offender s to good standing in the community. While there is a significant amount of research which has examined the effectiveness of community based programs, relatively little research has focused on the community volunteers who participate in these programs. I conducted an ethnographic study (observations and interviews) of community volunteers participating in a juveni le diversion program called. My research shows that N AB members encourage offending youths to make better choices in the future. They explain to the teens that with every choice one makes comes a reward or punishment Specifically, NAB members encourage youths to obey the law, work hard, and have a good at titude. Yet my findings also indicate that NAB members are aware of environmental factors, such as family and school s which may limit the choices actually available to youth s and influence their decision making. Ultimately, these findings represent a con tradiction in which NAB members encourage youths to subscribe to middle class values despite the fact that there may be structural obstacles which impede youths from doing so.


1 CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION The American juvenile justice system was created in Chicago as the 19 th C entury came to a close. It began when Jane Adams and other members of the Child Savers movement sought reforms to protect children. The first Juvenile Court was established in Chicago ial, separate place for children in 1997:24). Throughout last 100 years, the j uvenile justice system has grown exponentially. What began with one courtroom in Chicago h as expanded across the nation with most states and jurisdictions maintaining juvenile courts. In addition to juvenile courts most states also have s pecialized probation and residential correction facilitie s for juvenile offenders. The F ederal Department of Justice also operates the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) which provides national leadership, coordination, and resources needed to respond to juvenile delinquency. In 2009, OJJDP released data from their 2004 Census of Juvenile Residential Facilities. In the report, the OJJDP estimated that there were 2.18 million arrests involving juvenile suspects in 2004 At the time of the study there were 2,809 facilities nationwide which housed a total of 94,875 juvenile offende rs (OJJDP 2009 ). According to the OJJDP (2009) these finding represented an overall seven percent decrease in youth placed in residential facilities compared to 2002 Additionally, i n the fiscal year (FY) 2007 2008, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (FL DJJ) handled a total of


2 144,705 delinquency arrests for 89,776 youth s state wide (2009). Also in FY 2007 2008, almost 37,447 Florida youth were placed on probation, and 6,616 Florida youth s were se ntenced to residential facilities (FL DJJ 2009). As the data indicates, thousands of youth each year come in contact with the juvenile justice system. These institutions have lasting effects on both the youth and the communities they serve; and thus it is important to examine the ways in which such institutions operate. R estorative justice programs generally focus on the harms caused to the victim, the community, and the offender and seek to rep air these harms (Zehr 1990) As Bazemore and Walgrave restorative justice differs from the traditional justice system because it focuses on the harm of an offen se rather than the offense its elf. The restorative justice movement was born out of critiques of the traditional justice system In their critiques restorative justice advocates argued that traditional forms of justice failed to meet the needs of victims, and ultimately fail to rehabilitate offenders (Daly 2008). Beginning in the 1970s and continuing through the present, many jurisdictions througho ut the U.S. and beyond have begun implementing restorative justice programs (Daly 2008, Zehr 1990). Today, r estorative justice programs can be found througho ut the world in nations such as the U S Canada, England, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealan d In fact, in 1989 New Zealand was the first nation to adopt restorative justice as its primary form of juvenile justice (Zehr 1990).


3 Restorative justice programs can take several forms and have been used in both adult and juvenile systems. Some of the more common forms are victim offender mediation, family group conf erencing, and community reparative boards (Bazemore & Umbreit 2001) Each of these models represents a decision making process in which harm (to the victim, community, and offender) is identified and a plan is developed to repair the harm and to restore the offender to good standing in the community (Bazemore & Umbreit 2001, Zehr 1990). Typically during victim offender mediation, a trained professional or volunteer will meet with both the victim and the offender (together or separately) and will negotiate a plan or contract between the two parties Family group conferences are also moderated by a trained volunteer or professional, and victims are also present. In addition to the offender and the victim, family member s such as parents, siblings, and partners are included in the conference. This thesis examines Neighborhood Accountability Boards (NAB) as an example of community reparative boards. The community reparative board model, as the name implies, is perhaps the most inclusive model of restorative justice. In a community conference, victims, offenders, family members, and community volunteers come together to discuss the harm the offense has ca used to the victim, the community, and even to the offender. Generally all parties are involved in the development of the case plan, or contract. D ecisions are made by community stakeholders rather than profession al as is typical in the tra ditional judicial system. It should be noted that the examples given (victim offender mediation, family conferences, and community reparative boards) are just a few of the many restorative justice models currently in use


4 More specifically, t his thesis fo cuses on the community members who volunteer on NABs in a metropolitan county in Florida. I have observed hearings of a total of 19 cases at three NABs in varying community types throughout the county. Additionally I have interviewed seven NAB volunteer s about their participation in the program with the hope of better understanding the ways in which community members participate in restorative justice programs, their attitudes about crime, and their feelings about their participation. My analysis centers on questions of what volunteers do, how they communicate with the offenders they serve, and how they feel about the work they do Specifically, I examine d the values that NAB volunteers communicate to youths participating in the progra m, about making choices and about the consequences of those choices. My thesis is organized in seven chapters. This chapter serves as an introduction. Chapter two reviews relevant research related to restorative justice programs like NAB and also explor es research on community volunteers in justice programs. Chapter three provides an explan ation of the research methods. C hapter four provides a detailed explanation of the NAB program as well as background information about the research sites and partici pants. Th e thesis includes two analytical chapters. In c hapter five I explore what volunteers do, and how they communicate with the young offenders in the NAB program. I identify and explore the ways in which NAB members discuss decision making and con sequences with teens as well as the ways in which NAB members hold teens accountable to program standards. In c hapter six views about the environmental influences which may limit the choices of some youths in the program. Of these


5 influences, NAB members point to family environment as well as schools and school policies Finally, c hapter seven offers concluding remarks and recomm endations for further research and program development.


6 CHAPTER 2 : LITERATURE REVIEW In this chapter I review relevant academic literature related to restorative justice and community based volunteer programs, and also about the roles of volunteers i n the criminal justice system. My review establishes a gap in the academic literature concerning community volunteers in community based restorative justice programs. Although community based restorative justice programs like NAB have increased in popularity, relatively little is known about the community members who serve on these boards. Ultimately, this research will contribute to the limited knowledge about commu nity member participation in restorative justice programs. As noted in the previous chapter, restorative justice is any process which examines the harm that a particular offense has inflicted on victims and communities, and which seeks to repair these harm s. Restorative justice differs from traditional forms of justice in that the emphasis is on the harm done rather than the law which has been broken. For the purpose of this thesis, community based programs are those which utilize community volunteers or resources to manage or rehabilitate offenders. Community volunteers have long been associated with the justice system. Goddard and Jacobson (1967), directors of Lane County Juvenile Court Services in Eugene, Oregon, discussed the benefits of community p articipation in the justice system. In many jurisdictions volunteers served as probation officers for youth and adults long before the fields became professionalized. Goddard and Jacobson also argue that volunteer involvement in the juvenile justice syste m has many benefits for both the youth


7 involved and the volunteers who serve. They explain that volunteers have roots in the community which may provide resources for the programs and the youth they serve. Additionally Goddard and Jacobson explain that volunteers offer a different perspective than professional staff T hey wr ite (1967, p. 340) that in have actually experienced the same situations as clients may have first hand familiarity with their folkways, values and language s In order to obtain a better picture of the community members who volunteer in criminal justice programs and their motivations for volunteering Souza and Dhami (2009) survey ed 76 v olunteers from twelve community based restorative justice programs i n British Columbia, Canada. Souza and Dhami (2009:48) found that the majority of volunteers participating in the restorative justice programs were White women in their 50s and that most had a college education. Additionally, volunteers in their study rep orted being dissatisfied with the traditional justice system and its inability to rehabilitate offenders, which Souza and Dhami (2009:50) suggest may be what leads them to volunteering with restorative justice programs. Community based restorative justic e programs have proved to be influential in reducing recidivism, or reoffending among juvenile offenders In a recent study of a community based program for youth, Rodriguez (2007) concludes that youth participating in the program were less likely to recidivate than youth who participated in the traditional juvenile court system Using official juvenil e justice data obtained from an urban county in Arizona, Rodrig uez compared the outcomes of youth who participated in a community based restorative justi ce program rather than the traditional juvenile court system. Rodriguez (2007 :366 ) reports that after 24 months, juveniles in the restorative


8 justice program were less likely than offenders in the comparison group to have reoffended Rodriguez (2007) further reports that boys were slightly more likely to recidivate than girls yet that race and ethnicity did not have significant effects on recidivism. Ber g seth and Bouffard (2007) also examined the effects of community based restorative justice progra m s on juvenile recidivism. They compare d recidivism rates between youth assigned to a diversion program to those who participated in traditional juvenile probation. study looked beyond t he 24 month time frame and followed youth up to four years after their participation in the diversion program. Their findings were similar to Rodriguez in that youth who participated in the program were less likely to reoffend than those who participated in traditional court and probation programs In another recidivism study, McGarell and Hipple (2007) examined the effect s of family group conferencing compa red to other forms of community based diversion programs. Using survival analysis, McGarell and H ipple measured the difference in time until recidivism between youth participating in a family group conference program compared to youth participating in other diversion programs. Findings from their study indicate that youth who participated in family g roup conferences had longer time periods between their initial and subsequent arrests (McGarell & Hipple 2007:233). In sum, a s seen in the previous studies, research on recidivism indicates that community based programs are more effective than traditional programming Even though we know that some restorative justice program s reduce recidivism, we do not fully understand how they work. The work of c ommunity volunteers is central


9 to the success of community based restorati ve justice efforts. In spite of this little research has specifically examin ed the roles of volunteers in such programs. Aside from a series of studies published by David R. Karp and his colleagues (Chesire & Karp 2007, Karp et al 2004, Karp & Drakulich 2004, Karp 2001), there is little academic knowledge of the roles and values of community volunteers. publications focus on reparative probation boards in Vermont. The Vermont reparative probation program is a program for first time offending adults which is based on restorative principles. In his research Karp employed a variety of research methods including surve ys (Karp et al. 2004, Karp & Drakulich 2004, Cheshire & Karp 2001), content analysis of video taped hearings (Karp 2001), and content analysis of case files (Karp & Drakulich 2004). Karp (2001) reported that overall community volunteers are able to rese arch restorative outcomes In other words, Karp found that community volunteers are able to develop contracts with program participants which focus on repairing the harms of the offense This confirms that community members are capable of reaching progra m goals. Focusing on the types of people who volunteer, Karp et al. (2004) found that o verall, volunteers tend ed to be demographically different than the offend er population Karp et al. (2004) reveals that volunteers differed from offenders in all catego ries except for race. For instance, v er socio economic status than the offenders they served (Karp et al. 2004). Reparative board volunteers also tended to be somewhat older than the adult offender populati on (Karp et al. 2004).


10 In regards to volunteer attitudes, Chesire and Karp (2007) found that volunteers who had served a long time, or managed m any cases, tended to have less retributive attitudes toward offenders. Their study also found a positive relationship between conservative political ideologies and retributive attitudes toward offenders rather than restorative ones (Chesire & Karp 2007). A dditionally, volunteers with conservative political affiliations were strongly associated with beliefs that offenders were not better And yet they also found that volunteers reporting grea ter religiosity or spirituality were more likely to The s e finding s seem to contradict themselves as conservative political attitudes and religiosity are often associated with eac h other, however, the study did not differentiate between conservative religious denominations. Politically conservative attitudes were also negatively associated with variables measuring the belief that communities benefitted from commitm ent to restorative justice principles (Chesire & Karp 2007). These and other findings are most useful to my present research. Because my project explores the ways in which volunteers talk about cho ices and decision making, it is important to understand how political ideology and spiri tuality may influence the ir attitudes and values In summary, although community volunteers have long been associated with the criminal justice system relatively little research has been done to explore who volunteers and w hat their relationship to the justice system is Although Karp and his colleagues have begun to explore the contributions volunteers bring to restorative justice programs there is still much to learn My project will contribute to the understanding of r estorative


11 justice programs. Using Neighborhood Accountability Boards as an example of community conferencing, or communi ty based restorative justice, my project will add to the growing research on community volunteers by answering the following three que stions : First, w hat do community volunteers do ? Second,w h ich values do the y communicate to offenders ? A nd third, how do they understand and explain structural influences in the lives of teenagers ?


12 CHAPTER 3 : METHODS In this chapter I discuss my research methodology Specifically, I explain the process through which I obtained access to the NAB program and then discuss my methods of data collection and analysis Access Prior to entering graduate school I worked as a program assistant for the office of Juvenile Court Alternative Programs (JCAP renamed for anonymity ) in the county in which I conducted my research This previous employment was key in my ability to gain access to the NAB program which is adm inistered by JCAP. After discu ssing my project with the JCAP A dministrator, I developed a proposal which was presented to the Court Administrat or wh o oversees JCAP. After reviewing my proposal the Court Administration approved my research under the condition that all NAB participants (this included adult NAB volunteers, NAB case managers, youth and family members) at each research site agree d to participate This condition was in line with the requirements of receiving approval from the Univers ity of South Florida Institutional Review Board (IRB) and I was thus willing to comply Methods & Data My research uses a qualitative design, utilizing a combination of ethnographic observations and in depth interviews, to explore the research questions. Between February and November, 2009, I conducted four field visits at three research site s which I call Bay View, Cypress Terrace, and Plantation Oaks ( each site


13 will be described in detail later) for a total of twelve visits. Each visit lasted about two hours during which I usually observed two or three cases although this varied some what between sites. Altogether I spent 21 hours in the field and observed a total of 19 cases Although I only observed 19 cases total I ob served many of the cases several times I wrote up fieldnotes on each visit that came out to a total of 48 single spaced pages. Appendix A provides a table which presents the cases I observed during field visits. The table includes information about th age, race, offense, the number of times I observed the case, and the outcome of the case (if known) The majority of cases I observed were misdemeanor theft charges, however, a few teens were also charged with assault or batter y drug possession or criminal mischief There are three cases in which the crimes are unknown to me ; these are cases which I began observing after their initial hearing. A total of seven youths completed the NAB program during my observation, w h ere as only two failed. T he remaining ten cases were extended, or continued, beyond my time in the field and I do not know the outcome of the se cases. Due to IRB regulations, I was unable to observe youth under the age of 12, therefore the teens present during my observations were between 12 and 17 years old. Unfortunately because of this r ule I was unable to enroll several youth s into my study especially at the Plantation Oaks NAB site Prior to all observations I thoroughly explained the study objectives and methods to a ll participants as well as any benefits or harms they might receive from participation. All persons present understood that their participation was voluntary and that they could end participation at any time. In the case of children and parents I made it clear that their


14 participation in the study will not affect their status in the diversion program; meaning that if they decline participation they can continue with diversion. I managed to obtain consent from all volunteers and all case managers which I approached I also obtained written consent to be observed from most other adults present at the time of observation, including parents and family members of youth. Additionally I obtained written consent from parents and guardians allowing their child ren to be observed. I also obtained written assent from all youth present who were over the age of 12 During my time in the field, there was only one family who did not wish to participate in my study. In this instance, I left the room for the duration of the hearing. During my field visits I observed NAB hearings and I also engaged in informal conversations with NAB volunteers and case managers. While observing NAB hearings I generally sat out of the way; in the back of the room, or a t the far end of the conference table. While I could not audio record NAB hearings due to confidentiality restrictions, I took detailed jottings including as much information as possible about the conversations and interactions that occurred between volunteers offenders, victims, and family members (Emerson et al. 1996) In many instances th ese notes resembled rough transcripts of conversations. The notes were later typed up in the form of fieldnotes and secured on a password protected drive; original handw ritten notes are stored in a locked file cabinet. To e nsure confidentiality, I use pseudonyms to refer to all study participants and locations at all times I should also note that the NAB volunteers at all three research sites were extremely welcoming and excited to participate in my research. Often NAB members


15 thanked me for coming to their hearings and expressed gratitude for taking interest in the work that they do. Without their enthusiasm and their willingness to be observed this project would have failed. My second method of data collection involved formal in depth interviews with a number of NAB volunteers. The use of interviewing allows for a deeper exploration of research questions with participants ( Weiss 1994 ) Specific to my research the interviews allowed me to explore interview guide can be found in Appendix B The interview sample was derived from NAB volunteers at the three si tes I visited among those who expressed interest in being interviewed. I should note that at one of the sites, many more volunteers wished to be interviewed than I was abl e to accommodate for this study. I i nitially planned to interview four volunteers f rom each of my sites, for a total of twelve interviews. Unfortunately, I had difficulties contacting many of the volunteers who had agreed to participate in interviews. After weeks and months of making phone calls and leaving answering machine messages, I was left with only seven interviews. Although my attempts to interview twelve NAB members fell short, those I was able to interview shared valuable information Of the seven interviews I conducted, four were with volunteers from the Plantation Oaks gro up, two with volunteers from Bay View, and one volunteer from Cypress Terrace. Interviews ranged in length from just under 30 minutes to just over an h our. All interviews were audio recorded and have been transcribed in full Interviews were conducted at a time and place most convenient for participants. The interviews for the Plantations Oaks NAB members were conducted at the Plantation Oaks Chamber of


16 Commerce on a NAB meeting day. Two of the participants met with me prior to beginning their volunteer duties, while two others met with me while hearings were taking place. The Bay View and Cypress Terrace NAB interviews were conducted by telephone at the p articipants request I have included a detailed description of interview participants in Appendix C. Now that I have discussed my methods of data collection, I will discuss my analytical strategy. Analysis I approached analysis of fieldnotes and interview transcripts using an interpretive approaching the data with in mind the researcher should start with individual cases and events and then build their theoretical analysis from the data (Charmaz 2001) Following this tradition rather than forcing my thoughts upon my data I have allowed the data to speak to me. I began by read ing printed copies of fieldnotes and interviews and t aking hand written notations to develop a list of initial codes. After sev eral rounds of readings and line by line coding several major themes began to emerge from within the data. These themes were further developed through memo writing, through which I began to better understand the processes and assumptions made in my initial coding (Charmaz 2001) Although I have taken a ground ed theory approach to my analysis, I cannot ignore (1968:46). Additionally, while ac counts may offer insights to the lives and experiences of accounts are "situated" according to the


17 statuses of the interactants, and are standardized within cultures so that certain accounts are terminologically stabilized and routinely expected when activity falls outside the domain of expectations From this we see that accounts are subject to change This is im portant to my project because the accounts I have observed during NAB hearings may have been different in different situations. For instance, the teens may offer different accounts of their behavior, or future goals to NAB members than they would to their friends or family members. Additionally, the stories and accounts of NAB members may also be different depending on their audiences. Limitations While at times, this study felt very large and overwhelming to me, it is extremely small compared to the scope of research that still needs to be done. Currently, in the county where I conducted my research, there are eleven active NABs; my study only examined a quarter of them. And of that quarter, I only observed each group less than a handful of times. While the groups I observed overall were more similar than they were different, it would be impossible to generalize my findings to the other groups operating in the county. That being sa id however, it may not be unreasonable to assume that the conversations which take place at other NAB throughout the county (and perhaps across the country) are similar to those which I observed at Bay View, Cypress Terrace, and Plantation Oaks. In this c hapter, I have outlined the process through which I obtained access to my research sites and participants. I have also explained the methods I have employed to collect and analyze the data. In the following chapter I provide some more important


18 backgroun d information about my research sites and participants, as well as information about NAB processes and procedures in general.


19 CHAPTER 4: SETTINGS AND BACKGROUND INFORMATION This chapter provides important background information about the research site s and participants and it also outlines the NAB referral process and procedures in general This information provides context to help understand the analysis which follows in later chapters. Currently there are eleven NABs in operation throughout the cou nty Due to time constraints and resources, it would have be en impossible to condu ct observations at each group. T herefore I wanted to assemble the most diverse sample of boards and participants as possible. I selected three NABs from different community types ( urban, suburban, and rural ) for my sample. The first NAB I observed is called Cypress Terrace The Cypress Terrace NAB meets at the Cypress Terrace Community Center. The center is situated in a residential community not far from downtown The neighborhood is mostly single family homes; however the community center is located about two blocks from a public housing complex. The community center is a large multi purpose building with meeting rooms and social service offices. There are several playing fields and a community pool located on the property of the community center. The Cypress Terrace NAB meets in a large multi purpose room inside the center. The room is reminiscent of late design, with e xposed brick walls and blue carpet. Usually there are between four and six volunteers present at the Cypress Terrace NAB. The group consists of mostly women with only one male volunteer present during


20 my time in the field The majority of NAB volunteers at Cypress Terrace are Black The y rang e in age from their 40 s to 80 s. The y are usually casually dressed wearing khaki pants or slacks and blouses or polo shirts Plantation Oaks i s a large sub urbanized area which is home to a diverse population of families of different races and socioeconomic statuses The Plantation Oaks NAB is facilitated by the Plantation Oaks Chamber of Commerce. From my understanding, i n order to volunteer, one must be a member of the chamber or at least employed by a business that is currently affiliated with the chamber. This NAB is the largest in the county. In m ost months the group consists of 12 or more volunteers. Volunteers display a mix of ages, however it appears that most are in their mid 30s to early 50s. Many of the volunteers appear to be W hite and we re usually dressed in business attire. Due to the large number of volunteers, the Plantation Oaks NAB operates three ee or four members serving on each team. Volunteers usually serve on the same team from month to month; however there is some variation over time For consistenc y I observed the same team throughout my research. The team I observed meets in the Chamber Board Room, a large meeting room with an expansive conference table in the center. The oversized dark wood table is surrounded by high back leather chairs and the walls are decorated with photos of chamber members; all W hite and mostly men. The room has an official and serious feel to it. Bay View is the third research site. Bay View is located in a rural resi dential area located about 30 miles from the city c enter The Bay View NAB meets at a county service center. Several agencies have local offices here including child and family


21 services, health and social services, and what appears to be a non profit medical clinic. The building looks like any other mod ern office plaza. The complex has a large and active parking lot, with a diverse mix of families and individuals hustling in and out all the time The NAB meets in a large multi purpose meeting room adjacent to the County Health and Social Services agency lobby. The lobby, which is shared by a county agency and a local non profit social service agency, is warm and inviting. With tile floors, comfortable couches, and a ; the lobby feels more like a living room than a waiting room. The meeting room in which the group meets is laid out like a classroom with two r ows of tables facing the front of the room where another smaller table is located. The volunteers sit at the first row of tables and ask youth and parents to sit at the table in the front of the room. Bay View is the smallest group I observed. In total the re are four active volunteers, each month there are usually only two or three present. The majority of the volunteers at Bay View are W hite. Of the four volunteers I met, three are women. The Bay View NAB members range in age from 40s to 70s. NAB memb er s at Bay View generally dress casually, often wearing polo shirts with NAB logos on them. Taken t ogether these sites reflect the diversity of communities within the county Cypress Terrace represents the urban heart of the county, Plantation Oaks repre sents fringes The groups include a wide range of individuals from a diversity of races, ethnicities, age, classes, and walks of life. Although each of the NAB s is unique in its demographic make up and geographic location, they are part of a larger program


22 operat ed by the county and follow the same procedures. The NAB program is administered by the Office of Juvenile Court Alternative Programs (J CAP ) a division of the Co The following figure presents a basic trajectory of a typical c ase referred to the NAB program. Following the figure, I explain this trajectory in detail. Figure 4.1 Trajectory of a NAB Case (SAO) reviews all juvenile arrests in the county and determines whether or not a case is eligible for diversion. Cases eligible for diversion are generally cases involving a youth who has no prior arrests and offenses which are misdemeanors or non violen t third degree felonies. Once referred to J CAP the case is evaluated by the program coordinator and assigned to a case manager. Youth commits an offense & is arrested State Attorney refers case for diversion Youth & Parent(s) meet with NAB case manager Youth attends NAB hearing; Contract is created Rehearings Youth Completes NAB contract Youth fails to complete the NAB contract case is returned to the SAO


23 Next t he offending child and his/her parent(s) or guardian(s) will meet with the case manager to discuss the diversion prog ram and their case. In order to participate in the NAB program youth must admit guilt to the offense and their parents must agree to their participation. In the event that a youth does not admit guilt, or is unwilling to participate in NAB, the case wil l be returned to the SAO and may be filed in court. When the youth admits guilt and agrees to participate in NAB the case manager then conducts a brief interview with the family documenting information such as, explanation of the offense, his or her hobbies and interests, school performance, and parental reaction to the offense. At the end of the meeting the youth is scheduled for a NAB hearing in his or her community. At the start of a hearing, NAB members introduce themselves and expl ain the purpose of the hearing, the guidelines of the meeting, and they ask youth and family members to introduce themselves. During the hearing NAB members discuss the offense with the youth and i nquire about various interests and strengths the youth m ay have Volunteers may also engage the to determine if there are any other issues which need to be addressed. At the conclusion of the hearing NAB members negotiate a contract with the youth (and the victim if present). Available sanctions include: writing assignmen ts (apology letters, reflection essays etc), educational programs drug testing/treatment, anger management counseling, general family counseling, school progress reports, financial restitution and communit y service. NAB members are also able to create other sanctions which they feel might be appropriate for the situation. The child and parent(s) or guardian(s) review and sign the


24 contract if they agree to the sanctions. After the contract is signed th e family is provided rehearing for the following month. At the rehearing, the youth will present evidence of the completed sanctions and NAB m embers discuss the sanctions with the youth and his/her parents. Ultimately, i f the youth fails to complete all sanctions they will be terminated from the program and the case will be sent back to the SAO. I f the board members believe the youth needs more time in the program, board members may schedule another rehearing Usually, w hen all of the ass Finally, u pon completion youth are able to apply for expunction of their record. Expunction is a process outside of NAB and requires parents to complete and submit forms to the Florida Departme nt of Law Enforcement. Expunction limits the ability of outside parties to learn of the offense. From my understanding, youths terminated from NAB do not have the opportunity to expunge their records. This chapter includes background information importan t for understanding the context and processes of the NAB program and my research I first provided additional detailed information about the research sites and participants. Additionally, I have provided information about the general NAB referral process and procedures.


25 CHAPTER 5 : CHOICES AND CONSEQU E NCES In their conversations with youth and family member s, NAB members emphasize agency, or the ability of individuals to make their own choices. In these conversations, it becomes clear that one can choose to conform to social norms and be reward, or conversely one can choose not to conform and be punished. NAB volunteers discuss life in terms of a series of choices; one good or bad choice will lead to other choices, and so on. In many ways thi s series of choices reflects a larger system o f choices and consequences through which one must navigate in life Early in my observation s it became apparent that NAB members spent a considerable amount of time discussing the importance of obeying the law, work ing hard and having a good attitude. To NAB members, these represent important skills or qualities which are necessary for individuals to lead successful and productive lives. I begin this ch apter by introducing NAB member s views o f the major purpose of the program. During interviews, many NAB members expressed the purpose of the NAB program as giving kids a second chance. Secondly, in this chapter I explore th re e ways in which NAB members present choices and consequences to the teens, and how they emphasize indiv idual agency and accountability specifically in regards to obeying the law, working hard, and having a good attitude. Many NAB members describe the major purpose of the program as giving kids a second chance During my interviews with NAB members, they often acknowledge that the reason why many of the youth s were participating in the program was simply that


26 they had made bad decisions. As James, a volunteer at the think NAB identif ies good kids that made a stupid mistake and gives them a second a second chance for kids, and he elaborates on the idea of good kids making bad decisions. As he jok ingly put it: If there was a charge of stupidity, either felony or misdemeanor level, they would be charged with that too. Outside of a few vicious ones that should be sent Like James, Frank acknowledges that m any of the youth in the program have simply T his implies that many of the youth referred to the program are referred for crimes which represent an error in judgment or a bad choice As I will show in this chapter, NAB members spend much of their time discussing choices and consequences with youth and their family members. They emphasize to the youth that they have the ability to make choices and that they will be held accountable for their decisions in life. Through my interviews with NAB members it became apparent that NAB teer from Bay View explained: I think the major purpose of the program is to have young people examine [pauses] their actions, and take responsibility for their actions, and in some way learn enough about themselves and the world so that their offense. simply giving kids a second chance, Sally emphasizes the importance of teaching youth about themselves and the world and ultimately of giv ing them knowledge to make better


27 decisions. Through these excerpts it becomes clear that NAB members acknowledge that the reason why many of the youth s enter the program is simply because they have not had enough experience in life to be able to make decisi ons which will keep them out of trouble. Going beyond NAB members also try to educate youth and help them to make better decisions in the future. In the following sections, I explain the w ays in which NAB members encourage children to obey the law, work hard, and have a good attitude. Obeying the Law Perhaps the most important choice youths have, as emphasized by NAB members is obeying the law. After all, youth are referred to the program for a law violation Although not formally charged, the youth in the program are considered Additionally a new arrest constitutes a violation of the program and may result in the encourage youth and in some cases their family members to follow the law and to avoid future fighting, stealing and drug use. In so doing, NAB members convey messages t hat encourag e law abiding and discourag e law breaking. Typically law abiding messages are conveyed by giving youth alternatives to anti social or illegal behaviors. Additionally, NAB members use cautionary tales of incarceration or other unpleasant ou tcomes, in an attempt to discourage anti social or illegal behaviors. The first example of a NAB member emphasizing individual agency and alternatives to law breaking, comes from an exchange between Gloria, a middle age Latina NAB volunteer at Bay View Nora, the NA B case manager, and Jeff, a 14 year old W hite teen who was referred to NAB for battery. Often NAB members will ask a child


28 what they would do if they were in a situation similar to the one which led to their arrest In this instance Gloria a situation again he might fight again Gloria: What would happen next time? Would you get into a fight again? Ye ah, probably Gloria: You will get suspended again Y ou know I have a boy too and I tell him Nora: I used to work with girls in jail and you know, sometimes they redirect or restrain them looking guy; you could probably get away if someone tried to fight you. s that there are undesirable consequences for continued fighting: Jeff will get suspended again. Building on Gloria Nora emphasizes Nora borrows from her experience as a juvenile probation officer to explain to Jeff that he can choose to avoid fighting. In this situation Nora encourages Jeff to think of alternatives to fighting. H er statement emphasizes that he has the ability to avoid troubling situations. In this quote the message is clear : Jeff can choose whether or not to fight. consequences for making the wrong choice However the message to Jeff is clear: if you choose to fight again you will get in trouble. In another case, Gloria the same volunteer, asked Ashley, a 15 year old W hite teen referred to NAB for shoplifting : Gloria: What have you learned? Gloria: What if you a re with your friends and something like this happens again?


29 to make your own decisions go your own way. In this example Ashley tells Gloria and the other NAB members that she has learned that stealing is wrong, and she implicitly acknowledges the negative consequences of stealing. ke her own Much like in comments to Ashley emphasize her ability to make her own choices. As Nora explained to Jeff that he can choose to avoid fighting and possibly escape from an attack, Gloria encourages Ashley that she does not have to shoplift just because her friends do Perhaps one of the most extreme examples of encouraging you th to make good choices and obey the law also came fro m the Bay View NAB Jasmine, a Black 16 year old was referred to NAB on charges of criminal mischief. As retold by Jasmine and her mother during her hearing, a fter several incidents in which her younger brother was the school the boys who had bullied her brother were in the gym so she did not confront them. Instead In the following quo te Nora, the case manager, explains to a Jasmine and her mother that they cannot take the law into their own hands From now on you have to turn things around. If you see a wrong, instead of handling it yourself and causing trouble, turn it around so tha t the other I know. People in my culture we live in a different culture, even if we were raised different. In the


30 In this ex cerpt Nora explains that in the US, one must rely on the police and the legal system to handle problems one may encounter. She emphasizes that although some individuals do not like to get the po lice involved, there is no alternative. The message to Jasmine and her mother is clear: and doing so will only lead to more trouble. In the above examples, Nora and Gloria demonstrate to Jeff, Ashley and Jasmine that they have the ability to make choices that will keep them out of trouble. In th e case of Jasmine and Jeff, the teens are encouraged not to fight and to get authorities involved in disputes they may have with others Although Ashley demonstrate s tha t she understands that stealing is wrong and that there are consequences for stealing, Gloria still encourages her to make her own choices and to do the right thing. In the three previous examples NAB members emphasized agency, or the ability of youths to make their own decisions. In the cases of Jeff and Jasmine, NAB members also explained that there are consequences for making the wrong choices. These accounts of potential cautionary tales provide impl icit and explicit examples of unpleasant consequences for those who break the law These cautionary tales emphasize that one is responsible, and will be held accountable for actions. Throughout my observations there were many examples of such cautionary tales. Thro ugh these tales, NAB members generally emphasiz ed that continued run ins with the law will lead to bigger problems in the end These cautionary tales ask youth to imagine their futures As Randy, a volunteer from Plantation Oaks, once asked during an initi al In another example, David a W hite volunteer from the Plantation Oaks NAB cautions Dominique, a 17 year old Black teen not to steal


31 again explaining : ime In another case David explains to Antonio, a 14 year old Latino boy, also These accounts allude to the fact that there are more consequences for criminal behavior than being referred to NAB. David for instance, implies that repeat offenses will lead the youth through the court system and into the jail house While e ach of these examples focuses on formal consequences of crime, some of the most vivid examples of cautionary tales that I observed focused on informal consequences of criminal behavior. One such example comes from Cypress Terrace, Rosetta is a Black woman volunteering in Cypress Terrace. She addresses James, a 16 year old Black male who will end up failing the program for continued drug use: someone who did. He started out just like you, started with marijuana. It to make a choice. In this example Rosett a uses a personal account of a former partner continued drug use will lead to an undesirable future. As Rosetta points out, James can choose to quit using drugs now or end up living In this narrative, James is shown that although marijuana use may seem harmless or fun now, there may be long term consequences for continu ed use. Rather than telling James that he will end up homelessness. does not want to see James become a drug dealer, working the corner to make a living and feed his addiction.


32 Ano ther example that emphasizes informal consequences to criminal behavior comes from the Bay View NAB. Below, I quote an exchange between Sally a W hite volunteer and Angel, a L atino teen who was referred for a theft charge: Angel: Because of the consequences. Sally: Which consequence was the worst? Angel: The community hours. Sally: What else? t. I can see you really hurt your family. In his account, Angel tells the NAB members that he understands that there are negative consequences for committing crimes. Furthermore he acknowledges that the re are official sanctions for criminal behavior (in his case having to complete community service hours) and explain s that the possibility of future sanctions might deter him from reoffending. Sally, however, redirects his focus to the indirect or informal consequences of his action, the fact that he embarrassed his family and hurt his mother. This example illustrates that in addition to official sanctions and direct consequences of crime, there are also indirect and informal conse quences which may be just as bad, if not worse than official court ordered sanctions. Not only do NAB members encourage youth s to make good choices and stay out of trouble with the law, NAB members also have checks in place to make sure that youth are in fact staying out of trouble. NAB members regularly review results from drug screening to make sure that youth are staying drug free and teens are often terminated from the program for continued drug use to make sure youth are staying drug


33 the law again C ase managers have access to state and local juvenile arrest records and can check up on youth to make sure they have no t been arrested for any new offenses. Of all the cases I observed only one youth (Carter, Cypress Terrace NAB ) received a new charge (possession of marijuana) while being in the program. Unfortunately, I left the field before I could learn the final out come of his case. However the NAB volunteers explained that they would be willing to keep him in the NAB program if the State In sum mary NAB members expect youth s who are in the program to stay out of trouble. T his means that they expect that youth will abstain from drug use and not be arrested for new criminal offenses. NAB members emphasize the long term importance of avoiding legal trouble. They express these expectations in two ways. First, NAB volunteers encourage making good choices and avoiding bad choices They encourage decisions thus reminding them of the agency they possess Second, NAB members tell cautionary tales which relate the consequences of bad choices, such as continued illegal and anti social behavior. Whether the consequences are official or informal, such as pain and embarrassment cause d to family members, NAB volunteers make it clear to teens that they can and should be avoided Thro ugh this NAB members create an array of choices and consequences for youth. They can choose to stay out of trouble and remain crime free and proud of their lives, or they can choo se to break the law and lose their freedom and other valued privileges


34 Working Hard Aside from encouraging youth to obey the law, NAB members often emphasize the importance of hard work and education. In my observations NAB members often gave examples from their lives about the importance of h ard work Most often the examples are of people who have gone to school, worked hard, and are now successful. emphasizing that those who work hard in school and in their careers are rewarded with material goods and high social status M any examples of working hard focus on education and emphasize the importance of doing well in high school in order to be adm itted into a prestigious university. The following is an example from my fieldnotes taken at the Plantation Oaks NAB. Dominique is a Black 17 year old referred to NAB for a theft charge. She is in her junior year of high school. She recently returned to a traditional high school after spending a year in an alternative school to make up academic credits. Dominique wants to attend the Georgia Institute of Technology to become a veterinarian; how ever, her current grades are low. David and Randy, two White volunteers attempt to motivate Dominique to improve her grades by giving examples from their own lives Domini que: 2.7 David: 2.7? How do you expect to get into Georgi a Tech with a GPA like that? You know, college admissions is very competitive the y want the best of the l ast year I attended a graduation. There were kids with 7.8 How will you compete with that? Randy: Da I have a son. He plays football for his school. It costs $30,000 a year to go there. Do yo scholarships for academics as w ell as for footba ll H e got $13,000 just for his grades al one.


35 Through their stories David and Randy demonstrate to Dominique that it is important admissions whereas Randy takes the story one step further explaining how good grades will bring much needed financial aid. Together these accounts emphasize that Dominique must work harder in high school if she wants to achieve her goal of attending Geo rgia Tech. In a different example volunteers at Bay View NAB spent time discussing the importance of education with Jeff, a 14 year old white male, who disclosed during his rehearing that he is considering dropping o college, Jeff plans to get his GED and enter the workforce early. In this example, Jane a White volunteer who also works a s a librarian, and Nora the case manager, e ncourage Jeff to stay in school. The following is an excerpt from my fieldnotes rehearing. talked to my counselor. Nora: Well do Jane: Why do you want to drop out? My counselor said I Nora : You know, you can make up credits in virtual school My nephew did it last summer. T hey were going to hold h im back. B ut he took class over the ask your counselor about it, maybe your mom can. [Nora pauses] I feel like Jeff: I want to get a job do my own thing Jane: Wha t job?


36 that. Jane: Think about whatever job you might get with out a high school diploma. Can you see your right now think about the future. What you do now affects your future. By coming to NAB instead of going to court you ortant. If you get in trouble for forever. Do us a favor. Think about your future and what you want to do. Take some time things can be In this e xcerpt, Jane and No ra deliver two messages to Jeff. First, quitting is not the best option, and second, without the expectation that one must obtain an education in order to have a successful life. Jane and Nor a set up a choice for Jeff ; he can choose to work hard to finish his high school education and have better career choices, or he can choose to drop out and be limited to low paying jobs or no job at all Either way Nora and Jane make it clear that the ch oice is his to make U ltimately they cannot force him to finish high school. In another example from Bay View NAB Sally a retired school teacher and Nora also try to motivate Jose a 17 year old Latino referred for possession of marijuana, to stay in school. The following quotes are exce r pts from my fieldnotes The first note shows Sal ly explaining that without an education, Jose will be limited in the work he can do. In the second note, Nora discus ses her brother as an example of someone who has finished his education and has a comfortable life: Sally: As an educator, school is important to me. Without an education out in the field s picking tomatoes, and oranges, and strawberrie s. Maybe you need to go to a career center. You need to talk to you r parents and figure out what is best for you Moments later Nora adds the following: Nora: You know, my brother went to tech school, now about your age T hough I had a talk with him to see what he wanted


37 to do. He wanted to be a mechanic, so I set him up to work over the summer with a friend of mine. He worked a few weeks and said it anymore. But anyway electrician. He makes a good living and has a nice house. different, they both emphasize the importance of s a positive s offer a darker outcome for Jose if he does not comp within the Bay View community. Her statement that largely by migrant Latino labor ers in the Bay V iew area Ultimately an education his career choices will be limited and thus his future will be unhappy. A f inal example of limited career choices due to a lack of education comes from David, a volunteer at Plan tation Oaks NAB During a rehearing, he explained to Dominique the Black teen described earlier : [ David is moving his hand like he is flipping a hamburger You need to stay in doing ? Y It is a bit ironic that David chooses to make such a statement to Dominique S he has expressed to the board members that she plans to finish high school and continue on to college an account which usually fits in with what board members want to hear However, David similar to many other NAB members, reminds Dominique that without an education she will be limited in her career choices. Through out the examples in this section, we see the ways in which NAB members cre ate a choice for youth s participating in the program. They can choose to work hard in school and obtain a degree that will result in high er paying career s and a successful lif e;


38 or they can choose to drop out of school and be left with low status jobs such as picking fruit or flipping burgers thus perpetuating a socially constructed hierarchy of job statuses NAB members do not only tell stories of the benefits of hard work and education, they also expect youth to prove that they are work ing hard. In the words of David, a volunteer from Plantation Oaks NAB : This program is about earning. Earning the right to have your case dismissed and have the charge removed from your record. This program is about earning; not getting by. As part of the sanctioning process most youth are required to complete community service hours and obtain weekly progress reports from their teachers. Through these sanctions volunteers can judge the improvement of youth as they progress through the program and determ in e how hard they are working. During my observations there were several instances in which school progress reports and community service work records influenced the outcomes of cases. At all three NABs, youth who showed improvement in school were praise d and congratulated. In some cases school improvement seemed to count more than other sanctions which the youth may not have completed. In the case of Antonio a Latino teen about 14 years old, referred to Plantation Oaks NAB for theft, volunteers overl ooked the fact that he did not compl ete any community service hours because of his improvements in school The following is an excerpt from my fieldnotes David works through the sanction contract as is if it as check list, item by item he asks Antonio to present the sanctions he has completed. David: Community hours we ask ed you to do 20 Antonio: No, right now we only have one ca r and my dad needs it to get to work.


39 your community hours. What about your school progress reports? Antonio presents the board with his progress report forms. At first the board memb ers seem outraged that he has F s in science and world history. They read As they sort through the forms however, they realize realize that the F s were on the first wee ks reports and that the other 3 weeks have shown improvements in his grades and attendance H e now has C s where he once had Fs They begin to praise him for his hard work : Kathy: This is outstanding for just three weeks! David: There was improvement I like that. You know, usually we fail kids who fail you. James: Whose responsibility is it? Antonio: Mine. James: Good answer. In this instance, the NAB members decided not to fail Antonio for not completing his community service hours. Instead, they explain that because he has shown in school they will give him a second chance to finish the hours. It is possible that the NAB members also gave Antonio a second chance because of his H owever they do not refer the hardship in their reasoning. In improvement in school which has allowed him a second cha nce at completing his community service hours. In this excerpt, we also see the recurring theme of choices and consequences. David makes it clear to Antonio that if he does not complete his community service hours, he will fail the program. Finally, Jam es, another volunteer, makes it clear to Antonio that it is his responsibility to complete the hours. Although school progress reports are an important tool used by NAB members to determine whether or not youth are working hard and improving, the boards ultimately cannot consider grades in their decisions making. This may seem confusing after my previous example; after all Antonio was given an extension because of his improved grades. However, while NAB members may choose to reward a child whose grades have


40 improved, they cannot officially punish students who do not improve Nora the case manager, once pointed out to the members of the Cypress Terrace NAB, concerned with behavior ladies. I t wou ld be nice if he had straight A requ typically focus on whether or not the youth has accrued any absences since their last meeting as well as comments left by teachers. While a child cannot b e terminated from NAB because of bad grades, board members can hold youth accountable for poor attendance, and at times they do confront a youth about their poor grades. An example of how a teen may be held accountable for his or her poor attendance and declining grades can be seen in an exchange between Dominique and board members during her rehearing at the Plantation Oaks NAB Interestingly, the rehearing began with Dominique proudly stating that her grades had improved, however once she provided board members with her progress reports it was obvious that not all of her grades had improved. David while reviewing the progress report exclaims : Absent eight times in algebra? What is going on? Dominique: I was sick. Randy: So you got signed out? Dominique: Yes. Mom: The school calls me and says that Dominique is sick and I need to come get her. Dominique: Like Randy: You went from a B to a n F in Algebra M still have a B! ed excused by her school. Generally board members do not focus much on excused absences because they are considered legitimate by the school and do not necessarily present a behavior al


41 concern. ill and instead appear to f ocus on a perceived lack of motivation and hard work. T he board members seem to believe that her declining grades in Algebra were linked to her absences. As discussed in the previous section, the Plantation Oaks NAB members spent a considerable about of time discussing grades with Dominique. Specifically, NAB members emphasized that with her current GPA she would not get accept to the college she claims to want GPA to be low, anything that might reduce her GPA further may be seen as problematic. problem indicating that Dominique has no interest in going to school In the following quote, Kevin, anot her volunteer, : Y ou say that you know that you need to go to school, but you missed classes. The purpose [of this program] is not just to get you think. We want you to put those thoughts into action. he NAB members are looking for evidence that she is working hard to improve, in school, and overall. As however, it does not appear that Dominique is working to meet the expectations of the board members. whe school the issue of this chapter. In many ways attitude and action are linked and it can at times be difficult to separate the two. Without the school progress reports volunteers would have to rely solely on the accounts of youth and their parents. It would be impossible for them to determine wheth er or not a particular youth is working hard and attending school regularly or not. As Kevin points out the purpose of the program is not only to get youth s to think


42 differently but also to act differently. Through reviewing school progress reports NAB volunteers are able to see evidence of thoughts transformed into actions. Although NAB members cannot punish students who do not achieve grades at the level they except, they certainly rewards the ones who do. Additionally volunteers also use evidence of community service as a tool to measure whether or not a child is working hard in the program. One very emotional case Before Casey entered the room for her rehearing, there was much discussion about what the board members should do about her case. David, the group leader, explained to the other members: olved at school, maybe too much. She wants to g she needs to ta ke responsibility for herself. She came back last month did a half ass job. I cut her some slack and I was wrong tting her community you ( I was told that Jesse is a youth pastor at a local church where the board told her she could do her community service hours ). David reads several text messages between Jesse and Casey in which Jesse offers Casey opportunities to complete her community service hours, but Casey is always busy with something else. Jesse to Casey: Y community service to finish the program. Casey to Jesse: This whole process has been very hard for me. The last ti m e I went in, they told me I was a failure. David: I never called her a failure. But anyway, what do you all want to do? Do we violate her? James: How about we give her one more week to finish the community hours? David : No Kathy: How is she doing in school? tardies and unexcused absences. ( David is referencing a summary the case manager prepared using data from the school board truancy system ). David: I want to fail her. Kathy: It would be a conse quence. David: Well I wanted to run it by you all.


43 Here service hours, but also because she has accrued new u nexcused absences and tardies. T he NAB members made their decision to fail her before Casey and her mother even entered the room. After greeting Casey and her mother, David g e t s straight to the point: Casey: I w as school business. I was working on the float for the home coming parade. Casey: I talked to my A dministrator, he said the days should be cleared up. David: The report says otherwise. What about your c ommunity hours? [This was an interesting circumstance Casey claimed the absences were excused but the report NAB members had listed them as unexcused. It was never made clear if Casey was lying or if the report was incorrect.] lot of service for my school. (Casey gives David her community service form and he passes it along to the other members) David: Community work has to be for a non profit. Casey: I collected food and books, and I made posters. David: But for who? Casey: Fire Fighters and [her response was unclear] While the NAB members discuss the form I notice that Casey and her mother look tired. Their faces are blank, without expression. David: You know, Bill sent me some text messages James: Community work for a bus iness is unacceptable; it looks like you did these at a business. Kathy: It looks like you r e back dating, when did you do these? James: Only 12 hours. Casey: No there should be 14 on there. David: Unacceptable. James: You had a second chance to do all th is your effort is not improving. David: In my opinion this is not acceptable. You need to take responsibility for yourself. You need to figure out what your priorities are. At this point Casey begins to show emotion. Her eyes begin to water and she r ests her head in her hands. David: Look at me Casey crying: Yes I am trying. David: This program is about earning. Earning the right to have your case dismissed and have the charge removed from your record. This program is about e arning; not getting by. David continues to tell Casey that her priorities are not in the right place. David: This is a violation you are going to court!


44 do not excuse her from completing the required community service hours. In spite of her attempts to defend herself and explain the unexcused absences and the lack of community service hours, the board members have already made up their mind. They decided that Casey wa s not working hard enough and thus they terminated her from the program. While youth s who fail to complete their community service are held accountable and at times are terminated from the program, youth who complete their hours are often praised for their hard work. In one example, Ang el a Latino teen, recounts his experience of working at a local church to the Bay View NAB members : Angel: I helped with picking up f urniture donations and cleaning the class rooms. Sally: Wow, you really worked hard! Is that something you would do for a living? Angel: Maybe if I got paid. The board members laugh Nora: You know, he was only supposed to do twenty hours. He did twenty one. Angel is praised by the board members of his work completing his community service hours. Although it may seem trivial, this praise shows Angel that there are rewards for hard work. Although he only worked one extra hour, he has earned the respect of the NAB members. Through their praise, Angel experiences first hand that there are rewards for work that are not only monetary. A similar case in which a youth went above and beyond the service requirement was Carter at the Cypress Terrace NAB Carter (int roduced earlier in this chapter) was also assigned twenty hours of service to complete. Instead of twenty Carter completed forty hours working with children at a local church. Rosetta: Where did you do the hours at?


45 Carter: A summer program with my chu rch. I helped with the younger kids. Rosetta: How did you like it? Rosetta: What was it like working with the kids? Carter: It showed me that I have to grow up; it was a lot of responsibility. Olivi really wonderful! T his shows that you are a hard worker. As in the case of Angel, Carter was rewarded for his hard work with praise from the board members. Rather than treating th e sanction as just another requirement, the board members use the completion of the sanction as an opportunity to show Cater that hard work will earn him praise and respect. Although Angel and Carter are just two examples, I saw many examples of NAB member s praising youth for completing their sanctions as a reward for making good choices In the previous section I have demonstrated the ways in which NAB members express the values of hard work and education. In communicating these values NAB members use examples from their own lives of individuals who have work hard, finished school and are now successful. Additionally they caution youth that without an flipping work hard and be successful, or they can drop out or do poorly in school and live a hard life. In essence their t ale phor. Youth can work hard and study hard and be rewarded with good jobs, scholarships and other luxuries; In many ways, their emphasis on hard work tie s back to the meritocratic notions of the American Dream; the idea that if one works hard and does the right thing, he or she will be successful. Unfortunately however, these promises of the good life may fall short for some. As we know, not everyone who works hard is rewarded, especially not in our current economy.


46 NA B members do not simply preach the value of hard work they also enforce it Through assigning school progress reports and requiring youth to complete community service hours, NAB members are able to gauge whether or not youth are working hard and making academic improvements. When youth fail to complete their community service hours or present progress reports that do not show improvement, they are held terminated from the program, board members often criticize d youth harshly for not completing their service hours on time, and were generally reluctant to give extensions thus directly illustrating the consequences for not working hard enough Having a Good Attitude Going beyond the importance of hard work NAB members also consider attitude to be important. In many instances hard work and good attitudes are inseparable. As James, a volunteer from Plantation Oak s explained during an interview. the first few seconds of them coming into the room. [Pause] You pretty much know what kind of case, [pause] you know how this is gonna go. Fro m Jame s hat NAB members rely on their perceptions of attitudes presented by kids during hearings. From these perceptions, NAB members make judgments as to handle the case. As I will show later in this section teen s who are perceived by NAB members to have attitude imes confronted NAB members do not rely solely on their perceptions of attitudes In the same ways that volunteers rely on school progress reports to measure academic improvement, NAB members rely on accounts from parents and family members to determine whether or not youth have good attitudes. Such accounts give NAB members a glimpse o f behavior and attitude at home. Through these accounts from parents and family


47 members board members also determine whether or not the youth is improving. Positive accounts are usually greeted with praise, while accounts of disrespect or not following parents rules result in confrontations from board members. opinions took place during a rehearing at Bay View. Larry, the father of Cole a White teen charged with theft offers sev Larry explains how he believes participating in NAB and counseling has helped his son: H I told him we need ed to make a folder for his paper work usually he would yell but he also provides a specific d behavior has changed. The Bay View volunteers were very pleased with the positive accounts which Larry provided. After the rehearing improvement. Apparently older sister explained to the board that he has been very hel pful around the house. He helps take care of his younger siblings and also helps her with her infant child. As in Bay View, the congratulated him for his work and emphas ized the importance of helping his family. For Cole Antonio, and many other youth who participate in the NAB program accounts were beneficial to the outcomes of their cases. This however, is not always the case. I hav times in this chapter. Dominique is a 17 year old B lack teen who had been referred to


48 the Plantation Oaks NAB for a theft charge During her initial hearing and subsequent rehearings, NAB members often accused Dominiq In fact, at two points during her initial hearing, NAB members directly confronted her about her attitude. The first instance was from Randy, a White male volunteer at Plantation Oaks NAB: For the last few minutes David h as been trying to get Dominique to give details about her shoplifting offense. Dominique however has been indirect in her answers; in some ways she seems nervous. She stutters and speaks in a quiet voice while sitting with her arms crossed. Randy this is crazy. Do you want to be here? Dominique [beginning to cry]: Yes David is trying to do? At this point Dominique seems confused, disconnected, and overwhelmed. She sits quietly sobbing. get you to open your eyes! Again David asks Dominique to explain what happened still crying she explains the event to the board members. In this instance, Randy judged and confronted Dominique on what he interpreted as a In this case, questions was interpreted as disrespectful rather than nervous or even frightened. mother Raquel. Throughou t the hearing Raquel has made statements which framed Dominique as hav ing a bad attitude. Raquel explained that characterizes Dominique as a lazy and disobedient child. Later, while


49 Dominique was recounting the story of her arrest Moments later to work. I have to tell her over and o with her younger siblings. Although it is not uncommon for a teenager to ignore their hese accounts construct Dominique as an unruly teen with a bad attitude. parental accounts were more damaging than in other cases. poor attitude. T he following statement was made by Carol, a Plantation Oaks volunteer, t appearance at NAB It statements and the board perception of Dominique : My mother had to work hard too. She was on her own and I had five sisters. My mother worked two jobs to support us and when I was your age I appr eciated what she did for us. I love my family and I would do anything to help them. I wish you had that attitude. Dominique that she had a similar childhood, with a si ngle mother who worked a lot and maybe was not always home. Carol recognizes Raquel as a hard working mother worthy of respect and cooperation from her children. however, differs from que appreciates all that her mother is doing for her. In the case of Dominique s reinforced the board members Board members criticized Dominique for not following her


50 NAB hearings. Youth s who are perceived to have good attitudes, or at least improving attitudes are praised where as youth s who are perceived to have bad attitudes are at times chided. In many ways, hard work and good attitudes go hand in hand. Youth s who work hard are often perceived to also have good attitudes. B ut hard work and a good attitude is not all that NAB members expect from youth participating in the program. As seen in the beginning of this chapter, t hey also expect that youth will stay out of trouble and obey the law. Summary In this chapter I examined the research questions Through their conversations and via stories told during hearings, NAB members emphasize the importance of hard work, having a good attitude, and most importantly obeying the law It is clear that NAB members expect that the teens participating in the program will comp ly with their sanctions, work hard to complete communit y service hours and also show improvement in their grades and school attendance. NAB members often tell success stories of individuals who have worked hard a nd finished their educations to entice the youth s Additionally, NAB members expect that youth s will have good account s of behavior at home to assess this issue Finally NAB members expect teen s to stay out of legal trouble or face a violation of the program and have their case sent back to court. NAB members frequently tell cautionary tales of incarceration in attempts to deter youth from re offending. However, they also give examples of model behavior s in order t o encourage youth to make better decisions.


51 Hard work, an education, a good attitude, and obeying the law are important cultural values in our society. In fact, Albert Cohen (1955) argues that children in US le Cohen, this measuring rod consists of nine principles: 1) ambition is a virtue, 2) the ethic of individual responsibility, 3) achievement and success at work and in the classroom, 4) the willingness to postpone immedi ate gratification for future gain, 5) long ranging planning and budgeting, 6) exercising courtesy and self control 7) controlling violence (Cohen 1955, Shoemaker 2010). Ann Ferguson (2001) found a similar pattern in her study of an inner city elementary Black male students whom they believed did not subscribe to middle class values. Additionally, Laub and Sampson (2003) argue that lower and working class delinquent boys who adopt middle class values significantly reduce their recidivism. Specifically, they argue that over the life course, lower class men who obtain an education, hold a steady job and establish strong personal relationships, are less likely to commit new crimes than their counter parts who do not. While these studies do not directly ci te appear to reflect his position that the omnipresence of middle class values and the impact they have on individuals lives. Throughout this chapter, we have seen examples of NAB members comparing teens to the middle class measuring rod. Because of the existence of the measuring rod it is difficult for individual s to succeed without working hard and having an education.


52 While hard work and an education do not guarantee success, it can be argued that without either of these, individ ual s are much less likely to own a nice house, or get a decent job that can support a family Similarly, staying out of trouble and having a good attitude are crippling as a drug addiction. A criminal record closes many doors and opportunities. An individual with a criminal record may have difficulty finding employment or education, as many colleges and universities are reticent to admit students with criminal histories. In many ways NAB members construct life as a series of choices that individuals are faced with. Depending on the choice one makes, one will face different consequences; some good and some bad. T his system could be visualized as a hallway with a serie s of doors with each door representing a choice. As one opens are particular door it will lead to different rooms, with more doors and choices. Through their conversations with the teens NAB members make it obvious that some doors lead to rewards whi le others lead to misfortune. If one chooses correctly he or she will have a satisfying life; however if one make s the wrong choices he or she may find him or herself in a jail cell or out on the street.


53 CHAPTER 6: ENVIRONMENTAL OBSTACLES AND DECISION MAKING Frank, Plantation Oaks NAB Volunteer As seen in the previous chapter, NAB member s spend much of their time emphasizing that every decision an individual makes has consequences. They explain to youths that individuals who make good choices are rewarded, while others who make bad choices are punished. This dichotomy however may be ove rsimplified. By oversimplified, I mean that saying that individuals who make good choices are rewarded and individuals who make bad choices are punished does not take into account the influence social structures might have on decision making or conseque nces From what I have observed, NAB members often make it sound easy to do the right thing NAB members rarely acknowledge in their conversations with teens the limitations one might face due to social forces However, d uring my interviews with NAB members they often spoke more openly about structural or environmental limitations that some youth do face. In this chapter I will discuss the ways in which NAB members interpret structural and environmental barriers they perceive to be standi ng in the way of teens in the NAB program. Specifically, I will discuss NAB members views of parental influence on children. Additionally, I will discuss the ways in which NAB members perceive schools and school policies such as zero tolerance, as limit ing choices for many children. The first section of this chapter will focus on issues related to parents and parenting. As I will discuss, NAB members expressed the view that some teens do not


54 receiv e support from their parents and that lack of family support will be detrimental in the long term In cases where NAB members perceive that parental support or guidance is lacking, they often expressed feeling constrained and unable to truly help the child at hand. In addition to a lack of support, NAB mem bers also discussed instances in which a parent actively encouraged their child to break the law. For NAB members, such parents represent the greatest environmental burden that a teen may face. Although it may seem parents are doing the best they can in difficult situations. This is especially true in the case of single parents. Ultimately however, all of t he NAB members I have interviewed express that they wish they cou ld do more to help families, and some members wish that they could sanction parents as well as youth s views about structural limitations outside of the home. Specifically, I will present NAB members opinions about zero tolerance policies and unsupportive school personnel As I will show, some NAB members find schools to be unsupportive environments because of these zero tolerance policies, which require schools to suspend, or even have childr en Thus, as I discuss later, school personnel and policies are viewed as limit ing Family Obstacle s Through interviewing NAB members, it became clear to me that NAB members view family environments to be extremely important to children. This is not entirely surprising considering the discourse in the US surrounding families and parenting in which it is assumed that


55 For instance, Ferguson (2001) found that school personnel blame The notion of bad kids coming from bad homes is somethi ng that many of the NAB members support and express T he following quote is taken from my interview with James, a White volunteer from Plantation Oaks NAB. In this quote, James is elaborating on an early comment he made about parents he views as problematic: I you can usually tell a good kid and sometimes S o you child ; their chances are p retty slim. come from bad environments. Thus, his statement reflects the popular discourse that bad kids usually f other NAB members which I will discuss later, it becomes clear that NAB members view family environment and parental influences as problematic for some teens Ultimately, bad home envir onments will influence and limit the choices even good kids can make I have categorized the comments of NAB members about family environments into t hree categories or three types of obstacles which may limit the choices of teens The first, criminal influences refers to parents whom NAB members appear to find the mos t problematic. These parents actively encourage their children to break the law. In many ways, criminal influences pose the biggest hurdle to the teens participating in NAB. If NAB members have the goal of teaching children to make better decisions in t he future, the influence of their parents may affect their decision making in the future. I call the second obstacle uncooperative parents and as mak ing it difficult for their children to complete the NAB program successfully


56 Finally, there are overwhelmed parents. This category represe nts a wide range of parents who may have problems of their own, such as alcoholism, or mental or physical health issues. The NAB members I have interviewed consider this to be problematic because these parents are willing yet unable to help their children make good decisions One of my earliest interviews was with John, a W hite volunteer from the Plantation Oaks NAB Like James, John also commented on the influence of parents, however John offered a more specific view point. When I asked John why he continues to volunteer with NAB, he responded : Um, I guess, that uh, the appreciation, well many things, [pauses] but I think one of the impactful things is that you walk away thanking your parents His response caught me off guard I pushed John further asking him to clarify what he meant. Interviewer: What do you mean by that? James: Many times, the kids that en d up here end up here for a lack of parenting. Interviewer: Lack of parenting how? John: Poor examples, the parents provide. [pause] Poor judgment that the parents provide or execute. Um you know I would say that that fifty percent of the kids that c ome through the doors come through our doors because their parents Y ou know [chuckles] Y ou know , F or instance we had a young lady here not long ago who came through for petit theft A nd uh she was a co defendant but the other defendant was her mother and she was in criminal court grown u p court and she had. Y ou know [pauses] How do you work with a kids into it? [laughs] it appears that he is implying that many a cycle that begins with parents who perhaps have made bad de cisions of their own and have been arrested themselves. As he continues, he references a case he recently worked on in this case a mother and daughter who had been arre very


57 difficult for NAB members to work with teens whose parents encouraged them to break percent of the children who participate in NAB were encouraged by their parents to break that law, t hen his claim may be incorrect. On the other hand, John may be referring to problematic family environments in general, which in the opinions of some NAB members, l ead kids to make bad decisions. During my field observations I only encountered one case in which a parent actually encouraged their child to break the law. The fact that during all of my time in the field I only encountered one such case may emphasize the rare occurrence of such influences Although these cases are outliers, it is clear that they leave lasting impressions on NAB members. During both my interviews with Sally and Joe, both White NAB volunteers from was referenced When I asked Sally to describe one of the most disappointing cases that she has worked on , stating: T here was a young woman who came to us. I think she was 14 or 15, and um [pause] her mom was actually the instigator in the crime that the young perso n committed. She instigated it. [Pause] S he uh was the one who uh practically talked the young girl into doing it T hen um as we you know tried to work with her um the mom was not engaged and was not su pportive. Joe also parents in NAB. After spending some time discussing what he believes the parents role s to be he spoke of Jasmine: saw a this group of kids in sch nd uh [Pause] And s o she went back and banged up his car and [pause] a lovely little girl But her mother, [pause] I


58 eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth I t was an eye, ear, nose and throat for an eye [laughs] yeah, real over kill. [Pause] And mother never chang ed her mind on that, uh, you know we had her back twice to see us and uh mother never changed her mind both clearly identify her mother as the ultimate source of the problem. Without her Jasmine would have never been arrested in fact, Joe noted according to NAB volunteers, her mother represents an extremely negative influence. Additional ly, as Sally points out, her mother was not engaged and was not supportive of her daughter. F inally Joe adds that she never changed her mind about what happened. These a ccounts exemplify the obstacle of criminal influences with which some teens have to contend For NAB members, parents such as most likely continue to influence their children in negative ways. Their influence may lead children to make bad choices again in the future, thus leadi ng the children into more trouble in the long run. For NAB members, it seems that c riminal influences represent the most extreme case of bad parenting : a parent who openly encourages his or her child to commit a crime While such influences appear to re present a small minority of NAB cases NAB members also expressed frustration about parents whom they believe are unsupportive, or possibly unable to help their children. Next I will discuss the category which I call uncooperative parents As the name implies, these parents are characterized by NAB members as being uncooperative and unwilling to help their children. Finally, I will discuss overwhelmed parents.


59 These parents are characterized by NAB members as being unable to help their children due to being overwhelmed by their own problems. James, a White volunteer from Plantation Oaks NAB, is one of the NAB members who expressed his frustration with parents who are not supportive. When I asked James to describe what he would call the most disappointing case he referenced cases in which parents have presented problems. While he initially referenced parents who are also their defendant, he later also referenced parents who have bad attitudes: come in with tre mendous attitudes you know that their gonna come in here and bully us around and get their kids off the hook and that kind of In his response, James constructs some parents as bullies parents who disregar d and as James implies disrespects NAB volunteers during hearings. Later James goes on to comment: W B ut um [pause] ultimately you know if a child is underage In his elaboration, James expresses the frustrating fact that NAB members must rely on parents to bring their children to NAB hearings and other places such as Teen Court jury duty, counseling or manner can be extremely problematic for NAB members. If they are unwilling to help their children through the process, it is not possible for the teen t o complete NAB successfully. choose whether or not to complete the NAB sanctions. the Cypress T errace NAB b ecause she felt that the board was disrespecting her both as a parent and as a person. n c hapter five. The board


60 ordered him to complete a substance use evaluation and to comply with any recommendations which resulted fro m the evaluation. As result, Carter was ordered to complete a substance abuse education program; his mother on the other hand was against the drug treatment program She argued first that her son did not have a substance abuse problem and secondly burden on her organizationally and financial ly because she was out of work at the time and did not have a car A few months later, I interviewed Louise, a Black volunteer from Cypress Terrace. During the interview, I asked her if she has ever encountered any difficult B ut you know, sometimes we [Pause] Y ou know its hard raising children alone, especially when they get into trouble. [Pause] And som etimes we get a mother who thinks she knows best and we had a case like that a few months to, she fought us hard. In the end the boy got a new charge for marijuana, [pause] and she knew we were right all along. [Pause] Y whom Yet have only been doing what she thought was the best for herself an d her son. In another interview, John, a Plantations Oaks volunte er, also talked about parents who m Interviewer: What were the sort of things the parents were doing? Was it an attitude or the parent refused to take them? Or? John: An a ttitude, giving excuses for everything not taking responsibility. You know all of the things we try to teach our children [laughs] that the parents


61 Again, in J work however may be refusing to take responsibility altogether. In this case John argues that some parents choose to blame someone else in order to avoid taking responsibility for their child. While I did not encounter such parents during my time in the field, it i s clear that NAB members perceive these parents as provid ing bad example for their children. Rather than supporting their children and encouraging them to take responsibility for their acti ons, they demonstrate that one should blame others for their problems. For NAB members, t his blame the other mentality directly contrasts with the world view that they try to teach to the teens that one must take responsibility for actions. In su m, w generally uncooperative and unsupportive of NAB members children In the eyes of NAB members, these parents fail to take responsibility for their children and a re unwilling to help their children complete NAB. There is ho wever a third type of parent which was also discussed by NAB members. These parents are characterized by NAB members as those who have problems of their own which limit their ability to help t heir children. I call this type the overwhelmed parent. During my interviews with NAB members, I learned that there are parents who themselves have serious issues which prevent them from helping their children. As James commented during our conversation about difficult parents:


62 Y had parents that w h ere, [pause] you could smell the alcohol on their breath as they sat across the table from us. It goes without saying that any pa smelling like alcohol has problems of their own which might prevent them from being able to assist their children in making good decisions. For NAB members, it appears that alcohol abusing parent s represent a or an un cooperative parent Rather than defying and opposing board members, a parent with substance use issues and thus may be unable to guide them through life and help them make good choices An example from my observations of this problem is Casey from Plantation Oaks NAB As I discussed in the previous chapter, Casey was terminated from the program because board members felt that sh e was not being compliant with their requests. However, p his fellow members: government, I guess as soon as she gets home feel like she can go h ome because mom is always drunk. During my observation the re hearing I made desperately trying to defend herself against accusations from board members that she was not trying hard enough er did not intervene. She sat quietly and expressionless as she listened to the case unfold. There may have been plenty of reason s why her mother chose not to intervene and defend her daughter and even if she had, the case may have result ed in the same way. alienated her from her daughter. Thus the NAB members perceive her excessive alcohol


63 use to be problematic for her relationship with her daughter. It is this perception which is key to my argument. NAB members who perceive parents to have their own problems, such as alcoholism, also perceive those parents as unable to help their children Specifically, it appears that NAB members believe that overwhelmed parents will be unable to help their children to make better choices in the future. Thus far, I have shown th e ways in which NAB members identify several types of family environments wh ich they view as obstacles to children making good decisions in the future views about parents who have encouraged their child to commit crimes. Through the criminal influences of their parents children are encouraged to break the law. I t is not unreasonable to assume that these parents will continue to lead their children down the wrong path. Second ly I have discussed uncooperative parents These parents are unwilling to accept responsibility for their children and often refuse to participate in the NAB process. In refusing to cooperate these parents make it nearly impossible for their children to complete NAB successfully. Finally, I have discussed overwhelmed parents. Whether they are overwhelmed by their own p these parents as being unable to help their children make good decisions in the future. Together these obstacles present environmental factors which NAB members believe will limit School Personnel and Policies During interviews, several NAB members identified school personnel and policies, such as zero tolerance, as environmental obstacles which they believe can lead oth erwise good kids into trouble. Although not all NAB members pointed to schools as


64 problematic environments, about half of them voiced concerns regarding schools. I should note, that while volunteers disclosed these concerns during their interviews, I neve r witnessed anyone expressing these concerns directly to the teens participating in the NAB hearings Sally, a volunteer from Bay View NAB, explained that she does not believe that schools are supportive environments Sally places some blame on school per sonnel who do not do enough when children ask for help. hearing one side when kids go to adults in a school setting and complain about being picked on or bullied , the kids take it in to their own hands. [pause] um, so I think the school system has to do better. Interviewer: What sort of things do Sally: at it through the eyes of the kids, I Interviewer: But what sort of things do you think would make schools more supportive environment s ? Sally: I think that, I think that schools, that school personnel need to be engaged in every avenue of what happens during the school day. I think that if a kid is brave enough to approach an adult with a problem that adult needs to handle that problem. That kid needs to know that when they ask for an adult to intervene they ca n be su re that that will happen. A in many of these cases. Interviewer: So have you seen a lot of cases that have originated from the school? Sally: Interviewer: And are those usually fights or t heft or? Sally: Interviewer: ? Sally: you know, that I think could have been resolved way way before it became physical. Here Sally describes school personnel as unsupportive Although she admits that she has only heard one side of the story, she feels as though schools, specifically school employees do not do enough to prevent or resolve fights and bullying Through her comments, Sally creates an i mage of a teen who initially tried to do the right thing and


65 child was forced to defend itself and later arrested. Additionally, t hrough her statement Sally acknowledges that some of the kids referred to NAB may have had no other way out of their situation than to fight back Interestingly, t his is in contradiction to the messages which NAB members provide youths during hearing s ; i.e. that there is alway s a right choice and a wrong choice available ; and that one can always run away. Here, instead are forced into fighting, or into defending themselves. Frank and James, both volunteers from Plantation Oaks NAB, also viewed schools as problematic environments for teens While they do not directly accuse school of being unsupportive, they focus on zero tolerance rules as problematic and limiting options In their view, i t becomes clear that zero tolerance rules often put good kids into bad situations, and as James note s, this makes his job difficult. Probably the hardest thing though Marc, is when you have a kid that is being punished for trying to do the right thing and helping somebody. Take a fight at school for example ; they might have gotten in the middle of it to try to help A nd A ng the right thing and you when you leave here never do that again because that would be wrong B ut still the way our system works is that they still need to get punished. As seen in the previous chapter, NAB members often encourage kids to avoid fighting. They tell kids to get adults or the authorities involved, but as Sally stated, the authorities may not be helpful. The situation described by James however creates a troubling contradiction. James implies that there are times when fighting, or perhaps breaking up a fight, is justifiable. James actually describes breaking up a fight as being the right thing to do we see that people who do the right thing are sometimes


66 punished rather than rewarded, which contradicts the m e ssages NAB members conve y to the youths in the program. Frank also condemned zero toleranc e policies. In his view, o ften times the cases that are referred to NAB from schools could have been resolved without the police being called. When I asked Frank to describe some of the most satisfying cases he ha s worked on, he provided the following response: Well we have one go ing right now, an 11 year old kid, who took a um steak knife to school and he showed it to a girl to impress her. I think I was probably 17 years old before I started worrying about impressing girls B ut this little itty bitty kid and the school system because they have these plans Yo u know stupid A ll you have to do is take a little more effort and look at each case individually d done this they would have smacked the kid and said d the other. I gonna have him write an essay on um, uh even gonna see him again. The ca se manager is going to see him. a knife at school is extremely dangerous. However, Frank emphasizes that schools do not do enough to understand specific situations. Frank seems to view this particular case as a n example of a poor decisions rather than a situation where any students were seriously in danger. Because of zero tolerance policies however, the young offender now faces criminal charges. This was not the first time I heard Frank voice his dissatisfaction with zero tolerance rules. During one of my first observations at Plantation Oaks NAB, he also expressed his disapproval: Lisa, the case manager is briefing the NAB members on some of the cases they will hear today. She explains that one case is interesting because the girl was arrested at school for bringing her mother prescription strength ibuprofen to school. Frank respond s


67 s about how schools take things too seriously these days; but also mentions that he understands why they d o it He pull s a pocket knife from his coat pocket and joke s This fieldnote, combined with Frank s comments above show s that some NAB members views schools as at best, difficult environments for young people. Frank even goes as far as to joke that one of NABs purposes is to protect kids from schools which have seem to have polic es that create instead of solve, trouble. Ultimately, some NAB members believe that schools have policies in place which act as structural bar rier s with which kids must contend Whether it is a lack of support by school personnel, or inflexible zero tolerance policies, schools present a different set of structural limitations on the choice s kids can make While there is certainly a difference between a boy who breaks up a fight and another one who brings a knife to school to impress a girl and yet another difference between the above and a girl who brings a bat to school to hit another student rigid sch ool policies lead all of them to the NAB program In many ways, Sally, Frank and James portray children as victims of uncaring school personnel and punitive school policies. In viewing these youths as victims, rather than serious offenders, these NAB mem bers acknowledge the environmental and structural barriers are present in schools. Their accounts echo the arguments of Laurie Schaffner. In her book, Girls in Trouble with the Law Schaffner (2006) argues that school policies lead many young women into j centered around the experiences of young women accused of violent crimes, it may also be applied to the teens referred to the NAB program Schaffner reports that during her research she encountered several young w omen who were incarcerated because of zero tolerance policies in schools. Typically, these young women were arrested after violently reacting to repeated sexual advances from male students. For these girls, as in the case of


68 teens participating in NAB, i t is the inability of school pers onnel happen? and to display reason and flexibility, which results in their arrest. Summary In this chapter I discussed the environmental factors that NAB members perceive as problematic for children specifically with respect to making good decisions First I discussed family environment issues For many NAB members, parents represent external factors which may prohibit children from making better decisions in the future. Whether they are parents who encourage their children to break the law, o r parents who refuse to or are unable to support their children through the NAB program, t hese parents represent environmental factors which in the eyes of NAB members, ultimately will limit the opportunities available to their children and the choices they will make in the future. Secondly, I discussed the ways in which some NAB members view schools to be problematic environments. In some cases, NAB members encounter children who have asked fo r help from school personnel but were ignored. In these cases the children tried to do the right thing, i.e. ask for help but they were let down by the adults in charge I n other cases, students f e ll victim to zero tolerance policies. Such policies repr esent a structural element that while meant to protect all students, at times criminalizes the innocent. As I discussed in the previous chapter, NAB members spend much of their time discussing choices and consequences with youth. They present life a s a series of choices and consequences which one will face. In their discussion with youth s however, they make the choices seem simple, despite the many forces which may complicate a young person decision.


69 If we return to the hallway metaphor I used in the previous chapter, we now see that NAB members acknowledge structural and environmental influences which may these influences are property or school personnel who ignore reports of bullying. In other cases kids may have parents who are struggling with alcoholism or other illness or they have fall en victim tozero tolerance policies However, when NAB members account for these hallway have been locked. These locked doors represent the choi ces they have lost due to limitations in their environment. These locked doors contradict the messages which volunteers convey to the youths they serve. In their conversations, NAB members create a world for youths in which a real choice exists. While th is may be true for many of the teens who are called before the NABs I have observed, unfortunately however, some evidently face a much different reality.


70 CHAPTER 7: CONCLUSION In this chapter I first, summarize my research findings and discuss contradictions within my findings Secondly I provide recommendations for future research. Finally I discuss some policy implications of this study and make recommendations as to how the Neighborhood Accountability Boards may be improved I began this project with three simple questions : what do NAB volunteers do, which values do they communicate, and how do they feel about their participation in the NAB program ? S imple answers to these questions could be given as follow s NAB members enc ourage youths to make better choices in the future. They explain to the teens participating in NAB that with every choice one makes comes a reward or a punishment Specifically, NAB members encourage youths to obey the law, work hard, and have a good att itude. If the youths adhere to these principles, NAB members assure them that their lives will be happy and prosperous Finally, through my interviews with NAB members I have learned that NAB members enjoy participating in the program. Many have volunte er ed for several years and expressed feelings of fulfillment and gratification. However, NAB members also feel frustrated that some of the teens may be unable to overcome environmental obstacles, such as parental influences or school policies, which may u ltimately limit their ability to make good choice in the future Through m y observations of NAB hearings, I found that NAB members are determined to help the teen s participating in the program make better decisions in the future. During their conversations with youth s NAB members emphasized the


71 importance of obeying the law, working and studying hard, and having a good attitude. Ultimately, NAB members emphasize that life is a series of choice s, and for each choice one makes, he or she will b e punished or rewarded. NAB members make it clear to youth that the values of hard work and obeying the law are important in order for them to lead rewarding lives. NAB members understand there are many environmental factors which may s lives and decisions making. Primarily NAB members acknowledge parent al influence as an important factor which many children will not be able to overcome. Although they are only a very small percentage of the cases NAB members see, there are parents who have encouraged their children to break the law. Additionally, NAB members acknowledge that some parents have troubles of their own, whether they are related to mental health or economic issues which may have negative e ffects on their children Finally, NAB members acknowledge that school environments and p olicies leave children in difficult positions. Lack of support from school personnel may leave students feeling isolated and helpless after being bullied. Finally in the eyes of NAB members, school policies such as zero tolerance create criminals out of innocent kids. Herein lays a contradiction: although NAB members acknowledge certain environmental factors which may influence or limit the choices teens make, they do not express this to the teens pa rticipating in the program. Unfortunately I did not ask NAB members why they do not discuss these environmental barriers with the teens participating in the program. Additionally, this contradiction may be left unresolved due to the limited number of cases I have observed. However, the source of this contradiction class measuring rod.


72 In describing the ethic of individual responsib a person should make his own way in the world by The ethic of individual responsibility is perhaps one of the most celebrated middle class values in our society today. This is evid ent in research on entitlement policies such as welfare and healthcare reform. Specifically, arguments against welfare and healthcare 2003, Quadango 2005). Additionally, almost daily we read and hear news stories of individuals who have overcome incredible obstacles to become successful. This ethic of individualism is one whi ch, as we have seen in chapter five NAB members emphasize r epeatedly. In my observations, NAB members consistently reminded teens that individual actors make choices in life and are rewarded or punished for those choices. In this paradigm, the individual is paramount. It may be the case that in order to solidif y this lesson that NAB members must ignore structur al factors and instead focus on individual agency. This study fills an important gap within the existing research on restorative justice programs, especially those which rely on community member participa tion. While many jurisdictions across the U.S. have resorted to programs such as NAB to alleviate juvenile courts dockets and keep children out of residential facilities, little is known about the people who make these programs possible: the community vol unteers. While this study only gives a brief glimpse of the people involved in the NAB program, it shows that those who volunteer care about their communities and the children who live in them. While my study provides new insights into the interactions between NAB members and the teen s and families participating in the program, there is still much left


73 that needs to be understood. For instance, future research should further explore the contradiction which I have iden tified. By including more cases and interviewing NAB members about this contradiction, we may better understand why NAB members do not discuss structural or environmental burdens with teens. Additionally, a s seen in chapter five having a good attitude i s very important to NAB members. Board members who perceived a particular youth to have a the child Future research into community based programs should explore this issue further. For example, do different groups appear t o perceive attitudes differently? To which degree are perceptions of a bad attitude rooted in miscommunications or cultural misunderstandings? Furthermore, w these kids thinking right now? Are they real For example, the stealing will ultimately lead them to into a jail cell or a life on the streets may not reflect re are teens who participate in NAB who know people who regularly use marijuana or shoplift and have never been in trouble. Additionally, the other teens they may know who steal or use drugs may hold high social status in their peer groups In future rese arch, it would be beneficial to interview the children and families who have participated in NAB. Specifically, these interviews could explore the ways in which children interpret and react to their interactions with volunteers. Ultimately, understanding the reactions and interpretations of youths participating in programs like NAB is important to develop better sanctions and training for NAB volunteers.


74 It goes without saying that future studies must be much larger than mine. To do so would require a team of researchers exploring a larger number of research sites and interviewing a larger number of participants. Although the task may seem daunting, future research into programs such as NAB should not be avoided. There is still much to be learned abou t the people who volunteer in such programs and the attitudes and values they bring to the table. When interviewing NAB members, I asked if there was anything they would change about the program. It is important to share and comment on their suggestions within this thesis. Overwhelmingly volunteers responded that the program as it is now is fine H owever most made recommendations as to how the program could be enhanced. Several expressed frustration that there are limited locations for low income families to attend counseling stating that at times families have to travel great distances just to fulfill NAB counseling requirements. Others stated that they wished there were more locations for kids to do their community service hours Additionally, some volunteers felt as though there were more kids they could be helping and would like to see the program expand to allow more children the opportunity to participate. Overall I agree with the and support their r ecommendations From my observations, the program is very well organized, the case managers are very knowledgeable, and the volunteers overall are well trained regarding program policies and procedures, and generally adhere to the principles of restorativ e justice However, I am concerned that some board members may have lost sight of the restorative justice focus. During interviews, several Plantation Oaks NAB members be


75 and repair the harms caused by their offense Although many of the sanctions in NAB may be considered as punishment by the teens themselves the overall goal of the pro gram is to educate youths so that they do not reoffend. However, especially in the Plantation Oaks NAB things seem to take a more punitive tone. The following is a reflection I ( a teen whom I have discussed several times througho ut this thesis) initial hearing: During tonight hearing I felt uncomfortable. At times it felt like David and Randy were being combative with Dominique. They expected her to have her entire life planned and an answer for every question. This seem s un fair to me. Although she is 17 years old she is behind academically She spent the last school year in an alternative school, and from my experience as a case manager probably did not receive much counseling about getting into college. At times I felt a s if the two men were badgering her E ssentially they were telling her that build her up, only to break her down. It was hard to ignore the dynamics of race and class to day. Two upper middle class white men scolding a lower class B lack teenage girl. One of the most uncomfortable comments was when David er but you will listen to us Overall t he conversation focused on Dominique and her attitude. Not once did the board members discuss the community or the effects of crime on the community. T his hearing felt punitive rather than restorative. If NAB is to remain a successful program all of the volunteers must understand that it is a restorative program; i.e. that the focus is not to punish but to educate and repair the harms done negative experience with White people in authority. Rather than helping her to reach her go als, volunteers simply case to inspire such a critical reflection, I am concerned that similar situations may also take place elsewhere, now and in the future. While I cannot assume to know why Randy


76 and David took such an aggressive position while working with Dominique, I do know that it does not fit the program s restorative goals. It is my understanding that JCAP coordinates new NAB member training once a year. Most of the time however, NAB members are trained on the job. They join a NAB, are given a handbook, observe a few hearings, and then begin to participate. For many volunteers this seems to be an effective training strategy. However, i n order to overcome issues like the one I noted above, all NAB members should be required to complete annual training, not only on program policies and procedures, but also with respect to issues of diversity and communication issues. Although they are volunteers, NAB members function esse ntially as members of the judiciary. Each year, judges, lawyers, and other court employees are required to complete continuing education course and educational seminars. In order to stay true to the goals of NAB, it may not be unreasonable to require the same of NAB volunteers.


77 REFERENCES Ayers, William. 1997. A Kind Just Parent: the Children of Juvenile Court Beacon Press: Boston. Research report for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Department of Justice, United States of America. Bazem ore, Gordon and Lode Walgrave. 1999 "Restorative Juvenile Justice: In Search of Fundamentals and an Outline for Systemic R eform." Pp. 45 74 i n Restorative Juvenile Justice: Repairing the Harm of Youth Crime edited by Gordon Bazemore and Lode Walgrave Criminal Justice Press: Monsey, NY. L ong term I mpact of R estorativ e J ustice Programming for J uvenile O Journal of Criminal Justice 35(4):433 451. 352 in Contemporary Field Research, 2 nd Edition edited by Robert M. Emerson Waveland Press: Long Grove, IL. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 44(4):65 99. Cohen, Albert K. 1955. Delinquent Boys: The Culture of the Gang. Free Press: Glencoe.


78 tice in the 21 st Century: Towards and Intersectional 30 in Restorative Justice from Theory to Practice edited by Holly Ventura Miller. Emerald Publishing: United Kingdom. Emerson, Robert M. Rachel I. Fretz, and Linda L. Shaw. 1995. Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes. University of Chicago Press: Chicago & London. Ferguson, Ann A. 2001. Bad Boys: Public Schools and the Making of Black Masculinity. University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor. Florida Department of Juvenile Justice FL. Crime & Delinquency 13(2):337 342. Hays, Sharon. 2003. Flat Broke with Children: Women in the Age of Welfare Reform Oxford University Press: Oxford. Justice Quarterly 18(4):727 757. Restorative Board Member Crime & Delinquency 50(4):487 515. Criminology & Public Policy 3(4):655 686. Laub, John H. and Robert J. Sampson. 2003. Shared Beginning s Divergent Lives: Delinquent Boys to Age 70. Harvard University Press : Cambridge, MA.


79 G roup C onferencing an d R e offending A mong F irst time Juvenile O ffender s: The Indianapolis E Justice Quarterly 24(2):221 246. Quadango, Jill. 2005. One Nation Uninsured: Why the United States Has No National Health Insurance. Oxford University Press: Oxford. Crime and Delinquency 53(3):355 379. Schaffner, Laurie. 2007. Girls in Trouble with the Law. Rutgers University Press: New Brunswick. Shoemaker, Donald J. 2010. Theories of Delinquency. Oxford University Press: Oxford. Souza, Karen A. and Mande based R estorative J ustice P Canadian Journal of Criminology and C riminal Justice 50(1):31 57. Justice, Office of Justice Programs, January 2009. United States. O 2009. Weiss, Robert S. 1994. Learning from Strangers: The Art and Method of Qualitative Interview Studies. The Free Press: New York.


80 Zehr, Howard 2002 The Little Book of Restorative Justice Good Books: Intercourse, PA.




82 APPENDIX A: INTERVIEW GUIDE Section 1 Background & History 1. Please t were born, where did y ou grow up? When did you move here and why? What do/did you do in terms o f work? Where do you currently live/work? 2. How did you first hear about NAB? 3. How did you first decide to get involved? How long have you been volunteering? 4. When you first started volunteering, what expectations did you have about the program, and your work in it? 5. Have those ideas changed since you began working? In which way? Section 2 Current NAB Participation 1. Please describe what you consider the major purpo se of this program to be. 2. Could you please tell me about a recent case that you remember very well? 3. How come you remembered this case? 4. you began volunteering. 5. Tell me about on 6. What do you consider important when making decisions about a case? 7. How does your life experience influence your views on issues that arise during hearings? 8. 9. What do you find most rewarding about your volunteer work? 10. Is there anything about the program that bothers you? Section 3 Miscellaneous 1. Are you doing any other kind of volunteer work? Are there any other ways in which you engage in your neighborhood, in the larger community? 2. What are your future plans? Generally, and with regards to your work with NAB? 3. you? 4. Do y ou have any questions for me?


83 APPENDIX B: TABLE OF CASES OBSERVED Pseudonym NAB Age Gender Race Charge # of Obs Outcome Angel Bay View 15 Male Latino Theft 1 Pass Ashley Bay View 15 Female White Theft 2 Pass Cole Bay View 15 Male White Theft 1 Extended Jasmine Bay View 16 Female Black Criminal Misch ief 1 Extended Jeff Bay View 14 Male White Battery 2 Extended Jose Bay View 17 Male Latino Marijuana 1 Pass Kimberly Bay View 15 Female White Theft 1 Extended Shannon Bay View 15 Female Black Unknown 1 Extended Andy Cypress Terrace 15 Male Latino Unknown 1 Pass Carter Cypress Terrace 14 Male Black Theft 3 Extended James Cypress Terrace 15 Male Black Unknown 1 Fail Joe Cypress Terrace 15 Male Black Theft 1 Pass Karina Cypress Terrace 14 Female Latino Theft 1 Pass Marcus Cypress Terrace 16 Male Black Theft 3 Extended Carlos Cypress Terrace 15 Male Latino Assault 1 Extended Erica Cypress Terrace 14 Female Black Theft 1 Extended Antonio Plantation Oaks 14 Male Latino Theft 1 Extended Casey Plantation Oaks 16 Female White Domestic Violence 1 Fail Dominique Plantation Oaks 17 Female Black Theft 3 Pass


84 APPENDIX C: INTERVIEW PARTICIPANT PROFILES BY NAB Bay View Joe is a White male volunteer from the Bay View NAB. He is one of the original Bay View NAB members and has been volunteering for about five years. Joe is in his late seventies and is a retired Social Worker. Aside from his volunteer in Bay V iew with his wife. Sally is a White female volunteer from the Bay View NAB. Sally is in her sixties. Sally is a native New Yorker, but spent most of her life living in Maryland, right outside of Washington, DC. Although she is currently retired, Sally has had many careers in her life. She spent many years working as a school teacher, but also owned a restaurant and catering company. Sally lives in Bay View with her husband. She is one of the original members of the Bay View NAB and has been volunteer ing for about five years. Cypress Terrace Louise is a Black female volunteer from the Cypress Terrace NAB. Louise is in her seventies and has lived in the Cypress Terrace neighborhood her entire life. She is one of the original NAB volunteers from Cypr ess Terrace and has been volunteering for about six years. Plantation Oaks Frank is a White male volunteer from the Plantation Oaks NAB. Frank is 65 years old. Frank was one of the original volunteers at the Plantation Oaks NAB and has been volunteerin g for about six years. He is currently retired, but spent many years working as a Major working in the jails. Aside from his work with NAB and the Chamber of Commerce, Frank volunteers with the Boy Scouts and currently serv es as Scout Master. Frank lives in Plantation Oaks with his wife who also volunteers with NAB. James is a White male volunteer from the Plantation Oaks NAB. He is in his forties. James has volunteered with NAB for several years. He lives in Plantation Oaks with his wife and daughter. He owns an IT service company in the area and actively participates in Plantation Oaks Chamber of C ommerce events.


85 John is a White male volunteer from the Plantation Oaks NAB. John is in his forties. John described many places while he was young. John works for a technology company in a neighboring county, but lives in Plantation Oaks with his wife. John has been volunteering with NAB for about two years. Sam is a White male volunteer from the Plantation Oaks NAB. He is in his as the Commander of the local jail. Although Sam works in corrections now, he has had several careers throughout his life inclu ding service in the Air Force and fourteen years as a high school teacher. Sam has volunteer ed with NAB for just six months.


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