FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Four conferences are being held this week to discuss crime and its effect on Alaska communities.
The conferences, which are free, will focus on crime, punishment and rehabilitation in the community. A variety of agencies are attending, including the juvenile system, law enforcement, tribal governments, victims' groups and the state attorney general's office.
Also attending will be state Department of Corrections Commissioner Margaret M. Pugh and Tom Begich, who has been instrumental in establishing youth courts in communities across the state.
Keynote speaker Ann Seymour, a victim's advocate and author from Washington D.C., was to lead each of the conferences scheduled Tuesday in Anchorage, Wednesday in Fairbanks, and in Kenai and Juneau on Thursday and Friday.
Jim Orr, Northern Region juvenile probation supervisor, said that in the last four to five years, the state has slowly gone from a system where the offender was punished to a mediation model in which the community is involved.
''It's based on the restorative justice philosophy, and that is to restore the community back to what it was back before the crime was committed,'' he said. ''It gives something back to the community, instead of just taking.''
Programs such as Project Paint, where 20 juvenile offenders painted a disabled person's house this summer, are surfacing because of this refocused justice system.
''Each year we're moving farther ahead,'' Orr said. ''If the community gets engaged in the system, it's going to get bigger.''
The event is sponsored by the state Departments of Corrections and Health and Social Services. To register for the free event, call the Department of Corrections at 451-7762. Walk-ins can register the morning of the conference.
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