Justice in Vermont
in the Community
continued concerns about crime expressed by citizens throughout
the United States and the growing prison populations are good
indicators that our present criminal justice system is not working.
Attempts to deal with these concerns by passing new laws and
imposing longer sentences do not address the basic issues: the
victims of crime do not experience justice, and the community
feels unsafe. Our current adversarial, retributive criminal
justice system forgets the victim and sets up a contest between
the lawyers for the state and the defense. At best, the victim
gets to sit in the courtroom and address the judge before sentencing.
At worst, the victim is ignored and re-victimized by the system
which calls itself justice. And the community sits on the sidelines
Justice is a radical shift from the prevailing thinking about
justice. It recognizes the harm done to the victim and places
repairing that harm in the center of the system. Crime is a violation
of the victim and the community; crime causes a tear in the fabric
of society, and it is this tear which the public experiences and
wants repaired. Retribution cannot repair this tear. Retribution
can only push people farther apart, increasing the harm done to
the offender as well.
biblical terms, crime disrupts shalom, or the right relationships
between individuals, the community, and God. Restorative justice
works to restore shalom by holding the offender accountable to
the victim for repairing the harm done by the crime, and by giving
the community a role to play in responding to both the victim
and the offender.
crime has been committed and how shall we punish the offender.
What harm has been done to the community (victim & all
those affected in any way) and how may we best repair that harm
to the victim and the fabric of the community.
from Howard Zehr
Healing the victim
Healing the community
Mentoring the offender
To be heard
To feel safe
To feel free of guilt and shame
To trust that justice will be served
To feel support from the communityCommunity
Reconciliation with the event
To feel safe
To return a healthy victim and offender to the community
That justice has been served
Reassurance that the offense was inappropriate behavior
To be held accountable
To understand harm to victim and community
To express sorrow and feel empathy with the victim and community
To have a sense of security about and control over his future
To have hope for a better future
of Restorative Justice
and disputes are best resolved in the local communities
where they occur.
Victims receive support, information, and assistance
from friends, neighbors, and local officials.
Offenders are held accountable by (and to) the citizens
of the community.
Community participation empowers victims, offenders,
and local citizens to pursue equitable, pragmatic, and cost-effective
ways to resolve conflict.
Programs that encourage dialogue, creative problem-solving,
and personal transformation among the parties involved can
not only meet the needs of victims and offenders, but also
can create stable, peaceful, and engaged communities.
victim has special needs and claims that are at the center
of the resolution process.
Victims should receive respect, empathy, and accurate
information from people involved in the mediation and resolution
Victims need information about a range of available
services for healing themselves and for pursuing claims against
Victims need a venue in which to explain the harm done
to them by the offender.
Victims need the opportunity to participate actively
in the restorative process and to receive restitution from
offender has an opportunity to express remorse & repair
the harm done to the victim & to the wider community.
Offenders have the opportunity to admit wrongdoing,
take accountability for past actions, and offer an apology
to the victim.
Offenders have a role in outlining a plan of restitution
for the victim and community.
Offenders can receive appropriate services to prevent
future wrongdoing and to be reintegrated back into the community.
members have a need to feel safe, respected, and involved
in issues that affect their quality of life and sense of personal
Active participation of community volunteers in developing
and implementing conflict resolution programs facilitates
cooperation with local officials and heightened connections
Community participants can explore flexible, creative,
and proactive approaches to resolving conflict at the grassroots
Within an equitable and well defined framework, local
citizens take responsibility for handling neighborhood disputes,
shifting financial and personnel burdens away from the State
and local authorities.
Does Restorative Justice LookLike?
From Minnesota Department of Corrections
Justice is not a single program.
It is a set of principles from which a number of responses flow.
is an outline of the types of responses which are within the
and assistance are provided to victims and families of victims.
is given priority over other financial obligations of the offender.
mediation or conferencing is available for victims and offenders
who wish to participate.
volunteers are involved in working with offenders. The community
provides work opportunities so that offenders can pay restitution
are engaged in community service projects valued by the community.
treatment programs include components on victim empathy and responsibility
as a community member.
Offenders face the personal dimension of the harm caused by their
crime through victim/offender mediation, victim panels or community
they wish, victims have the opportunity to help shape the obligations
placed on the offender for repairing the harm.
Sanctions which repair the harm of crime take priority over sanctions
imposed just for punishment.
The courts and corrections agencies provide annual reports on
measures related to reparation.
Community members are involved in advisory boards which guide
the courts and corrections agencies.
Businesses and community organizations work with offenders to
reintegrate them into the community as offenders fulfill their
Churches sponsor support groups for offenders trying to change
Offenders leave the corrections system with greater skills than
when they entered.
Here are features of some existing restorative activities.
offender is referred to a panel of community volunteers and victim(s)
are invited to attend.
offender gains an understanding of the consequences of his/her
All parties discuss the harm done and how the offender can repair
a collaborative, problem-solving approach, a contract with the
offender is agreed upon with specific actions to be completed
by the offender.
egalitarian, talking process can be used for many purposes, such
as to develop consensus on community problems or to formulate a
community based response to a criminal act.
Circles have a traditional structure that invites participation
from each person and a facilitator who serves the entire circle.
offender comes face to face with a group of victims of crimes similar
to that which the offender committed.
tell their stories about the crimes they experienced and the affect
on their lives. (Victims do not speak to groups in which their own
offender is present.)
There is no dialogue during the presentation, but there may be a
question and answer period, if victims agree.
The offenders are frequently asked to write their reactions to what
they have heard at the panel.
voluntary process allows an opportunity for victims and offenders
to speak directly with each other in a safe, supported environment.
victim can talk about the impact of the crime upon his/her life
and the offender learns about the impact of his/her actions and
is given the opportunity to apologize and make amends.
A trained mediator prepares participants and facilitates dialogue.
voluntary alternative to the formal court for the first time offender
(juveniles or adults) is available to offenders willing to accept
responsibility for their actions.
board invites victim input and meets with the offender to design
a contract which describes activities the offender must complete
to repair the harm and make amends.
The State's Attorney dismisses charge when the Diversion contract
is successfully completed by the offender.
conference brings together the victim, offender, supporters of
each, and community members to resolve a crime or offense. The
offender must admit to the offense to participate.
A trained facilitator plans the conference and brings the parties
together to discuss the harm done by the offender and how the
harm can be repaired .
are organized to invite public dialogue about public, community
Forums are custom designed and facilitated to meet the needs
of the particular issue and/or participants.
Community dialogue can result in better understanding of an
issue, an action plan, or whatever the participants choose.
neighborhood complaints (parking, noise, dogs, etc.) are handled
by bringing together all the parties with an appropriate process
to facilitate a mutually agreeable resolution.
Victims are supported by neighbors who volunteer to help repair
Police refer cases of minor crime or misconduct directly to a
Community Justice Center, where an appropriate process (Reparative
Board, group conference, mediation, etc.) is set up to bring the
affected parties together to allow the offender to repair the
Programs, panels, and/or mentors are made available to help re-assimilate
offenders or other disenfranchised people back into their communities.
Vermont ReparativeProbation Program
Probation is a form of community-sponsored probation that brings
convicted offenders before a volunteer board of citizens as part
of their sentencing process. It is restorative rather than retributive
in nature. The victims of the crime and the community are the focus,
as opposed to the offender who is the focus in a traditional probation
Reparative Probation the offender must take responsibility for the
crime. He/She appears at a public meeting before a panel of Community
Volunteer Board members to discuss the nature and circumstances
of the criminal act.
The panel starts with the victim's account of how the crime affected
them. The panel then gives the offender and others a chance to speak.
The panel develops a contract containing activities which are in
accord with the goals of the program. If the offender successfully
completes the contract within 3 months and there are no other conditions,
the probation officer will recommend a discharge from Reparative
Goals of Reparative Probation
Offenders are led through these steps in forming a contract
they must fulfill within a 90 day period
To understand the impact of the crime on victims and the community.
To make appropriate amends to the victim and affected parties.
To make amends to the community.
To learn ways not to re-offend.
To successfully integrate back into the community.
Vermont Reparative Boards address misdemeanors and
nonviolent felonies and exclude cases of domestic violence.
the successful restoration of released inmates as productive citizens
provides a major opportunity for all segments of the community.
an inmate is released after years of a lifestyle totally incompatible
from life on the outside. Aside from any residual anger and bitterness
developed during a punitive and impersonal incarceration; by poor
medical care; by lack of programs and educational opportunity, there
is little preparation for the challenges of gaining employment and
resuming a productive life. Perhaps this explains the high recidivism
rates being experienced throughout the nation.
nationwide initiative is being supported by the federal government
to begin community efforts to ensure public safety and reduce victimization
by helping returning offenders become productive members of their
communities. Vermont alone, is receiving two-million dollars to
design a pilot program which might be a model for the nation.
The intent is to educate and treat offenders to not only help them
improve their lives but to reduce the chance they will return to
crime and drug abuse. The intent is that the reentry programs will
improve public safety and reduce the burden on law enforcement and
There is now an unparalleled opportunity for community organizations,
religious groups and individuals to take a lead in helping inmates
get reestablished in the community. Effective reentry efforts begin
while offenders are still in correctional facilities and continue
through their transition back into the community.
Personal mentoring relationships; assistance at completing education
and obtaining vocational training; providing adequate medical care,
alcohol and drug counseling; help in securing housing and job opportunities
are essential services to enable a successful transition from state
custody to successful productive independent living.
Exercised care to assure that the victim and affected parties are
not re-victimized, some religious groups and community organizations
have adopted an inmate and will mentor him/her through the transition.
In conjunction with the inmate's case workers, parole &/or probation
officers and available community services, they will provide the
personal community resources to assist in restoring the inmate as
a productive member of the community.
Community Justice Centers
Restorative Justice Center is an emerging community/citizen project.
Its goal is to strengthen individual and community responsibility
through the promotion of restorative justice practices and community-driven
programs and activities. Through these programs, citizen volunteers
learn about conflict resolution, bring community and restorative
principles to crime and conflict, participate in justice-related
forums, and offer their time, skills and caring to victims of crime,
offenders, families and neighbors in need.
What Can a Restorative Justice Center Provide?
Conflict resolution skills training.
Mediation and other conflict resolution services.
Family group conferencing.
Reintegration panels and services.
Community dialogue facilitation.
Community response activities: neighborhood and youth.
Information and referrals to resources.
Does the Community Get?
Victims needs are addressed.
Offenders are responsible.
Citizens are involved.
Communities are safer, and empowered.
Reconciliation and reparation occurs.
Benefits from Restorative Methods?
Criminal and non-criminal matters.
Adults and juveniles.
School discipline and truancy situations.
Pre and post adjudication.
Neighborhood and landlord/tenant disputes.
Noise, parking and other community nuisance issues.
Are the Potential Referral Sources?
Local Support Agencies.
Work Plan for Establishing a Justice Center
is a very condensed outline
Contact Carl Roof firstname.lastname@example.org at
the Vermont Dept of Corrections
a more detailed version.
Form Steering Committee
Establish a group of volunteers from diverse segments of the community
willing to meet regularly to guide the process of establishing a
Develop Publicity Materials
Research and gather available information and documents that already
exist to explain the concepts and practices of restorative justice.
Establish relationship with media regarding the Restorative Justice
Center to get the word out about what's happening and to generate
Hold Public Forums
Develop a creative, engaging, interactive forum to educate the community
about concepts, practices, and possibilities for a Restorative Justice
Center. Distribute a brief questionnaire to collect information
about interests, ideas, and concerns from those in attendance. Invite
input from anyone/everyone in the community.
Dialogue With Targeted Stakeholders
Identify and open dialogue with those organizations of stakeholders,
referral sources, etc. most crucial to the success of a Restorative
Justice Center municipalities, schools, churches, community
Learn About Existing Restorative Justice Center Models
Gather information about other RJCs in Vermont and elsewhere: population
served, services offered, community response, operating parameters,
governance structure, etc.
Compile and analyze information gathered from community members
and targeted stakeholders. Creatively consider all of the information
gathered, draw conclusions. Issue and publicize a report summarizing
the information you have gathered.
Establish a Board of Directors and Seek Funding
Directors should be "doers" and be representative of the
community. Coordinate with the community governing body and begin
to obtain funding, find offices and hire a coordinator.
Restorative Justice Booklist
by: Richard Frechette (Friends for Restorative Justice)
Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime and Justice.
Zehr, Howard. Scottdale, Pennsylvania; Herald Press, 1990. 280 pages.
Considered by many to be the grandfather of the restorative justice
movement in North America, this presents the author's understanding
of RJ, both from an historical and faith basis
Crime, Shame, and Reintegration. Braithwaite, John. New York:
Cambridge University Press, 1989.
This is probably the world's first modern look at the need for systemic
change to a restorative form of justice.
Criminology as Peacemaking. Pepinsky, Harold E. and Quinney,
Richard (editors), Bloomington, IN; Indiana University Press, 1991.
Provides a backdrop to a restorative justice movement, looking at
criminology as a peacemaking science in place of the traditional
Guidelines for Victim-Sensitive Victim Offender Mediation. Umbreit,
Mark S, and Coates, Robert B Washington, DC: US Dept of Justice,
2000. Publication #NCJ-176346; 63 pages (order free from 800-627-6872)
This document deals with a subject that challenges U.S. Friends
in so many areas. A "must" reading for those considering
involvement in the organizational end of the movement.
Justice That Heals: A Biblical Vision for Victims and Offenders.
Boers, Arthur Paul. Newton, Kansas: Faith and Life Press, 1992
Coincidence of the alphabet has this list book-ended by the two
"classics" of restorative justice from a faith-based perspective.
Multicultural Implications of Restorative Justice: Potential Pitfalls
and Dangers. Umbreit, Mark S, and Coates, Robert B. Washington,
DC: US Dept of Justice, 2000. Publication #NCJ- 176348; 21 pages
(order free from 800-627-6872)
This document deals with a subject that challenges U.S. Friends
in so many areas. A "must" reading for those considering
involvement in the organizational end of the movement.
Restorative Justice: International Perspectives. Hudson, Joe
and Burt Galaway (editors), Monsey, NY; Amsterdam, The Netherlands:
Criminal Justice Press and Kugler Publications, 1996. 516 pages.
Excellent review of restorative justice theory and practices throughout
Restoring Justice. Van Ness, Daniel W. and Karen Heetderks Strong.
Cincinnati, OH: Anderson Publishing Co., 1997. 221 pages
This book provides both a conceptual framework of restorative justice
and a comprehensive overview of restorative justice in practice.
It will appeal to both a faith-based and secular audience.
Satisfying Justice: Safe Community Options that attempt to repair
harm from crime and reduce the use or length of imprisonment. The
Church Council on Justice and Corrections. Ottowa, Ontario: (same),
1996. 334 pages (download the PDF file from:
www.csc-scc.gc.ca/text/pblct/satisfy/index_e.shtml, or order from
the Church Council (613-563-1688)
A wonderful compendium of promising practices throughout Canada
and elsewhere, produced by Canada's Church Council. Many are quite
appropriate for faith communities.
Shalom: The Bible's Word for Salvation, Justice and Peace.
Yoder, Perry B. Newton, KA: Faith and Life Press, 1987. 154 pages
Without referencing the phrase Restorative Justice, this book provides
a Judeo/Christian foundation for understanding what restorative
justice is all about from a basis of faith.
Victim Meets Offender: The Impact of Restorative Justice and Mediation.
Umbreit, Mark S., et al. Monsey, NY: Criminal Justice Press, 1994.
The author is probably the country's foremost expert on victim/offender
mediation; this book is both an exploration of the use of the process,
and the first serious qualitative/quantitative analysis of the program's
Justice, an excellent 50 minute video is available from the
Presbyterian Church, USAcall 800-524-2612 and ask for item
# PDS 72-630-96-720. The cost is only $ 5.00.
Form a restorative justice discussion group in your community organization;
get a speaker.
Learn about your State's justice system; assess how restorative
the system is.
Talk to your legislator about your concern for restorative justice.
Become trained as a volunteer in a Reparative Panel or a facilitator
of family group conferencing or victim-offender mediation.
Form a support group to assist crime victims in your community.
Talk to your municipal officials about forming a community-based
justice board or a community justice center.
Take a lead in organizing a prisoner reentry program in your community.
material on this page is available in booklet form
for distribution in your community.
844 John Fowler Road
Plainfield VT 05667
copies $1.00/ea. Postpaid
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