Lois Hoeft believes that using Restorative Justice in the schools and neighborhoods gives youth who commit non-violent crimes an opportunity to change behaviors and attitudes so they do not re-offend. She is passionate about making these practices available for all youth in memory of her deceased grandson who missed the benefit of restorative justice.

Youth Crime Committee

Problem: Too many children in Duval County are entering the school to prison pipeline


  • Thousands of youth a year are suspended from school and arrested in their neighborhoods.
  • According to the Department of Juvenile Justice, Duval County leads the state of Florida in the percentage of youth transferred into the adult criminal system, and Florida leads the country.
  • It costs $5,000 to process a youth arrest and $386 to process a civil citation[1] (Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office)
  • Last year, only 31% of youth in Duval County eligible to receive a civil citation receive one; the rest are instead arrested.
  • Restorative Justice has a 90% success rate and ensuring a youth does not reoffend. This program brings the victim and the offender together in a mediation where neighbors or peers decide on restitution outside of arrest or suspension. This program typically requires sanctions like an apology, research on how their offense affects others, research on their dream job and community service.

What we have achieved:

  • To date, four Neighborhood Accountability Boards have seen over 450 youth.  These Boards have saved the county over $2,000,000 in court costs and restored the lives of our youth. Our goal is to have restorative justice in all of our neighborhoods. To do this, we need our Sheriff to issue more civil citations so our kids can have a second chance. Sheriff Williams attended our 2016 Nehemiah Assembly last April and committed to do so. He shared that he would change the process of how officers issue civil citations so it is quicker. He announced that he is training officers to expand the offenses for which they can issue a civil citation. He agreed to issue a public service announcement to teach the community why civil citations are so important.  Sheriff Williams was at the annual Nehemiah Assembly and committed to issue civil citations to 90% of eligible youth. Our new State Attorney was also present and agreed to work with the Sheriff to find funding for three more Neighborhood Accountability Boards. She also agreed to help divert nonviolent youth from the court system into restorative justice programs in lieu of jail and take leadership in finding funding for more restorative justice programs. Since the Nehemiah Assembly, a new Memorandum of Understanding has been drafted and signed that will make civil citations the default across the whole 4th judicial circuit. Since it has been signed, civil citations have doubled. The Restorative Justice model is also currently being used in 180 Duval County schools. Last school year, there were over 8700 usages of restorative justice. That is quadruple from the previous year. This program is making schools safer and keeping kids in the classroom so they can learn. Duval County Chief of Schools was at our annual 2017 Nehemiah Assembly and announced that code of conduct violations are down by 40% and suspensions by 25%. Board Chairwoman Paula Wright was at our 2018 Nehemiah Assembly and shared her support for the program.



[1]: Florida statute 985.12 states that first time youth offenders who commit a misdemeanor offense (excluding crimes that involve gang activity, a firearm, or sexual offenses) are eligible for a civil citation instead of being arrested. In Duval County, youth who receive a civil citation are then referred either to a NAB or toTeen Court.

[2] A NAB is a form of restorative justice that brings together the people most affected by the crime—victim, offender, and family and key supporters of both—together to decide the consequence for the incident.


[3] A SAB is for student misconduct where the offender, victim and trained peer and faculty mediators meet to settle the incident. The victim and peer group are a part of deciding what consequences will be served to the offender.