RYASAP’s Youth Diversion Team (YDT) is part of RYASAP’s Restorative Justice Division.
The YDT is a diversion program offered to youth in Bridgeport who have committed minor delinquent acts or who are displaying at-risk behaviors at home, in school or in the community that could result in a referral to juvenile court. The program is voluntary.
Once individuals agree to start the process, they meet with the YDT panel, made up of community volunteers. These volunteers typically include business owners, former offenders, school staff, members of the faith-based community, School Resource Officers, court staff, and other after-school programs or mental health providers. They are aware of varying interventions and supports within the community. The panel also serves to represent those who have been harmed if victims are unavailable or there is no clearly defined victim.
Using restorative practices, they help the young person identify how they can repair the harm done by their actions and what supports they need to move forward. Youth come up with a plan to complete community service or apology letters and YDT staff helps to link them to supports such as counseling, mentoring, educational support or pro-social activities, among others.
The YDT accepts referrals from the police and probation for youth who have committed non-violent misdemeanor acts, from the school system for status offenses (such as Possession of Alcohol or Marijuana) and from the City of Bridgeport’s Youth Service Bureau.
As part of the Restorative Justice Division, YDT youth also have easier access to mediation as an intervention. Historically, mediation has helped YDT youth understand and repair the harm done to their communities and has proven to be an effective long-term component to the YDT process.
Through the Disproportionate Minority Contact (DMC) Pilot Program, the Task Force, in partnership with the Center for Children’s Advocacy and the Center for Children’s Law Policy, fostered major reductions in arrests of young people of color, and fostered agreements between the Bridgeport Police, Bridgeport Public Schools and RYASAP’s Youth Diversion Team to review arrests and divert youth to community services.