Restorative Outreach Services
Restorative justice programs and practices are centered on the people who have been harmed. The MCJC offers community-based emotional support and resource navigation to victims of property crimes in the immediate aftermath of the event. In partnership with the Montpelier Police Department, the MCJC Victim Services Specialist reaches out to people who have recently been victims of crime to offer a sympathetic ear and information about services available in the area.
The cases of people who have been harmed are referred are also contacted and offered ways to participate in whatever way is comfortable for them. Referrals come through by schools, the police, the State's Attorney, or the court for a restorative response. They are invited to meet with those who have offended them to ask questions and talk about the impact of the incident on themselves and others. If they are unable or do not want to meet face to face, they may participate by speaking with the MCJC Victim Services Specialist to provide information that they want the person who offended to hear about how they were affected. Whether to participate at all and to what degree, is totally up to the person who has been harmed.
"The best thing about this conference was sitting around a table face to face, and being able to speak about this situation without the formality of court."
In all cases referred to the Justice Center, the MCJC makes every attempt to identify persons affected by an offense, to inform them of the restorative justice proceedings, and to invite participation. People who choose to can
- Get information about their case and how to participate
- Attend a meeting to ask questions, give information, learn about the offender's thinking, have a discussion, and/or ask for specific actions that will help to make things better
- Submit information verbally or in writing to inform the restorative process
- Tell their story
It is not unusual for victims to have mixed feelings about participating in a restorative justice process. People affected by crime are typically hesitant to do so, but report high levels of satisfaction if they do. The MCJC staff is committed to responding to victims' needs and working to make the process as restorative as possible for all concerned.
"I wanted a chance for this young person to meet us face to face and vice versa, with the opportunity to discuss truthfully how the incident affected us."
Do victims have to participate?
Participation by the people harmed s entirely voluntary. However, restorative justice is about bringing the people affected and the person responsible for the harm and the community together in dialogue. It allows the people who have been affected to hear about what the person who offended was thinking at the time of the incident and what they have thought about since. The people affected are encouraged to tell the story of how the incident impacted them and ask questions of the person responsible for the offense to get information to help better understand what happened.
What is expected of people who have been harmed?
The level of participation is up to the person who has been harmed. They can participate fully by doing an intake interview with an MCJC representative and attending the Restorative Justice Panel meetings, or partially by appointing a representative or telling their story to a staff person who may relay it to panel members and the person who offended.
What kinds of things are appropriate to ask for to “repair harm”?
To be “made whole” can mean restitution (e.g., to cover repairs), to request for more information from the offender (e.g., asking, “Why did you choose my house?”), an apology — written or verbal — or service directly for the person who has been harmed or at a community service site. A staff person asks those harmed about their needs and expectations ahead of time and helps them to think about what is possible.