NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Dozens of Nashvillians are making the choice to meet with juveniles who have harmed them, in order to keep the kids from being charged.
Ty Perkins is one of them. He agreed to meet with a teen who stole his car to keep the 16-year-old from being put in the system.
"I wanted to make sure that the young man had a chance to at least try to redeem his-self from this situation because everybody deserves a second chance," Perkins said.
A second chance, turned into closure for Perkins.
"First he cried which was the hard part for me," Perkins said, "A lot of young men in these troubled neighborhoods, they need support. They need a man in their life, and it’s not always there, and that program provided that for that young man, so it was pretty compelling to me. I loved it."
Through the Restorative Justice Diversion Program, the teen never went to jail. He graduated from high school, and he's not been arrested again.
Travis Claybrooks is a former Metro Nashville Police Officer turned advocate. Through the Raphah Insititute, he's been implementing the program with the support of the Juvenile Justice Center.
"When given the opportunity, young people can change, young people will change," Claybrooks said, “We’ve taken 42 cases since July of 2018, 5 of those cases have gone to completion that accounts for 7 young people total. To date, none of those young people have been rearrested, or enter back into the criminal legal system."
Currently, there are 13 active cases and they hope to expand the program in the future. It's something Davidson County Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway supports as she said similar programs have worked in other cities.
"It increases the accountability for our youth, it also increases their empathy level," Calloways said.
The kids who are accepted into the program were arrested for thefts and home burglaries. "So the interesting thing about this is they never see anybody from the court system," Calloway said.
For Perkins, justice was seeing the teen make better choices through understanding the impact of his actions. "I believe that this program is very significant in this city right now," Perkins said.
Only certain juveniles are eligible for the program. In order to qualify, they couldn't have used a weapon while committing the crime, and no one could be injured.
The Raphah Institute operates on donations, and you can learn more about them here.