This bulletin presents an overview of community service and provides tips for designing and implementing meaningful community service projects for juvenile offenders.
Community service is a common strategy used by juvenile courts and probation departments as part of their strategies for dealing with juvenile offenders. In this bulletin, the position is taken that community service is an important and valuable tool and that meaningful community service can go a long way toward increasing offender accountability, restoring victims, reconnecting youth and community, and making things right again. Community service should be of value to the community and benefit the person providing the service. In the case of community service that is mandated by courts, it should address the harm that was incurred by the delinquent or criminal activity, and wherever possible should restore victims in some tangible ways and offer redemptive opportunities for offenders. The bulletin defines and describes community service, makes a distinction between voluntary community service and mandated community service, and addresses the effectiveness of community service highlighting the community service of three counties (Clark County, WA; Deschutes County, OR; and Lehigh County, PA), illustrating the meaningful application of mandated community service. Tips presented in the development of meaningful community service include, but are not limited to creative community service, restorative community service, involve the community, meaningful community service requires preparation, and celebrate achievements. 12 endnotes
Date Published: March 1, 2008