Healing Futures is Philadelphia’s first ever pre-charge, youth-focused restorative justice diversion program. This program represents a radical shift from the criminal legal system's approach to addressing harm, including harm caused by children. Instead of relying solely on a punitive response to harm, Healing Futures facilitates an exploration of accountability, healing, and transformation. Each case is diverted from the courts to a restorative process prior to any charge being filed. Once the responsible youth completes the program, the charges against them are declined.
This is a huge milestone for youth justice in Philly—and one that YASP has spent years working toward. For years, the system has been focused on criminalization and incarceration, in turn perpetuating the cycle of violence that traps countless young people. With Healing Futures, we have an opportunity for real justice and healing—by allowing survivors to get their needs met and young people who’ve caused harm to take accountability without getting pushed into the criminal legal system.
While Healing Futures prioritizes pre-charge cases, in 2022 the program began accepting young people who have already been charged as well. The Healing Futures team believes that focusing on pre-charge cases can help to prevent net-widening against young people, but that all our youth are in need of support. All charges against a young person are withdrawn and expunged once they complete the Healing Futures program.
Here’s how our program works:
In place of arresting and prosecuting a young person, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office refers their case to YASP for a facilitated face-to-face meeting with the person harmed, their support systems, and other impacted community members.
Participants develop a consensus-based plan to repair harms.
Once this plan is completed, no charges will be filed, and the case will be closed.