Press Release: ‘Harm to Healing’ Restorative Justice Program Celebrates First Graduation for Youthful Offenders


VENTURA, Calif. – The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office, Ventura County Probation  Agency and Interface Children & Family Services are thrilled to announce the successful  completion of the inaugural Restorative Justice Conferencing, for 10 graduates. The program, titled  Transforming Harm to Healing, kicked off in July 2022, and is available for non-violent offenders,  ages 12 through 21.  

Restorative Justice Conferencing is a program that diverts youth away from the juvenile justice system by offering the opportunity to participate in a conference with trained facilitators who connect youth to rehabilitative services. Restorative Justice Conferencing seeks justice by bringing together the youth and the victim to discuss the harm caused and, together, create a plan to move forward. “This is an evidence-based Restorative Justice Program that reduces the number of youth who enter the juvenile justice system,” said District Attorney Erik Nasarenko. “This program is victim centered, it nurtures growth and redemption, and it promotes public safety.” 

The Restorative Justice Program is a shift from a punitive mindset to one of understanding and  support. Inclusive of not only the youth themselves but also their families, this collaborative  program allows participants to gain a sense of empowerment often absent from other aspects of  their lives. Simultaneously, families receive additional support and services, leading to improved  family dynamics and ultimately positive outcomes for the referred youth. 

“We are very proud of the graduates of this program,” Restorative  
Justice Program Lead Victor Juarez said. “We have seen their remarkable growth, their commitment to healing, and their unwavering dedication to becoming agents of positive change.” Restorative Justice Facilitator Sarah Mendez added, “As we move forward, let us continue to advocate for restorative justice and to create opportunities for healing. We stand united in our commitment to building a future where  compassion, understanding, and second chances prevail.” 

“This graduation highlights a pivotal shift in juvenile justice, emphasizing the importance of  empathy, rehabilitation, accountability to victims of crime and community collaboration,” said  Probation Agency Manager Chris Modica, of the Juvenile Field Division. “Today, we celebrate not  only the accomplishments of these 10 graduates, but also the resilience and potential of every  young person whose lives we can positively impact through Restorative Justice Conferencing.” 

The District Attorney’s Office, in partnership with the Probation Agency and Interface,  
brought Transforming Harm to Healing to Ventura County to keep our community safe,  
and to ensure that juvenile offenders are held accountable. Funding for this diversion  
program comes from the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act, which provides state  
funding for counties to implement programs that have proven effective in reducing crime and delinquency among at-risk youth and youthful offenders. 

Interface Children & Family Services is a leading nonprofit organization committed to providing  comprehensive support services for children, families, and communities. Director Erik Sternad shares, “At Interface, we firmly believe in the power of healing, understanding, and second  chances. Our partnership with the District Attorney and Probation offices allows us to amplify our  impact and create lasting change in the lives of individuals and families. By working collaboratively,  we can offer comprehensive support services and foster a sense of empathy, rehabilitation, and resilience.”