Evaluation of Oakland and Richmond’s Neighborhood Opportunity and Accountability Board (NOAB)

Man in a group therapy meeting
Support for this work was provided by the AIR Equity Initiative.

Over-policing practices contribute to racial disparities in arrest and detainment and can escalate violence and trauma to those arrested, their family members, and their communities. To reduce over-policing and its disproportionate impacts on individuals of color and their communities, policymakers are increasingly embedding community voices into the policing and justice processes, including through restorative diversion practices. In contrast to traditional punishment, restorative diversion engenders accountability by engaging community members to holistically address community safety. Early research on restorative diversion practices suggests that it reduces rates of victimization and injuries while redeploying resources to community programming.  

Evaluation of the Neighborhood Opportunity and Accountability Board

AIR will evaluate a point-of-arrest restorative diversion program: The National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform’s (NICJR’s) Neighborhood Opportunity and Accountability Board (NOAB). NICJR reimagines the partnership between police and the community in Richmond and Oakland, California. NOAB diverts youth to programming prior to court involvement and offers youth the opportunity to participate in community- and strengths-based diversion services based in restorative justice and conducted in collaboration with members of the youth’s family and community. By diverting youth in lieu of detainment and justice system intervention, the NOAB process offers a promising opportunity to address harm and provide support with minimal justice system engagement.  

Graphic: The NOAB process

Graphic: NICJR (2023)

AIR will partner with University of California Berkeley’s Dr. Steven Raphael to examine the implementation of NOAB and its impact on youth and their communities. We will collaborate with Evaluation Studio, who will guide a group of young people with lived experience in the justice system to support research on the NOAB process. The evaluation will assess how the restorative diversion program is implemented and its impact on youth and family health and well-being, education, and future justice involvement.  

The findings from the evaluation will be used to help replicate community-based restorative justice boards nationally that transform the juvenile justice system and support youth and their families and communities. 

Candace Hester
Principal Researcher
Image of Melissa Yisak
Senior Researcher