- Community Justice Center
Volunteers are our greatest asset. The MCJC relies on skilled, trained volunteers to provide many of our services. Dozens of citizens give their time every year to staff and promote our programs. Volunteers serve as members of the Community Advisory Board, Restorative Reentry's Circles of Support and Accountability (COSAs), Restorative Justice Panels and occasionally as mediators and facilitators for community forums.
"Why we are all here is that we volunteers feel the great truth about life is that we are in this life together." ~ MCJC Volunteer
The MCJC needs community members who are willing to deliver restorative justice in the Montpelier, Northfield and Waterbury areas by giving five to eight hours a month for at least a year to serve on a Restorative Justice Panel or a COSA. All volunteers are provided initial and ongoing training and support.
Restorative Justice Panel Volunteers
Restorative Justice Panel members are volunteers from all walks of life who serve on a working citizen panel. Panel members conduct meetings with people who have been sentenced to a restorative process for (primarily) misdemeanor offenses or who have been referred pre-charge directly by law enforcement for the Restorative Justice Alternative Program. The focus of the panel is on the harm that was caused to people affected by a crime, who are invited participate, and to the community by the actions of the person who offended.
The informal, structured conversation in these meetings among panel members, people who have been harmed, and the person who committed the offense leads to a plan of activities for the person who offended to make amends to those they harmed, restore relations with the community, and keep from committing future offenses. View a commentary on the Restorative Justice Panel (formerly Reparative Board) process that aired on VPR in 2008, a 2016 article in the Waterbury Record featuring one of our many volunteers, and an article in the Montpelier Bridge about our work in restorative justice in May of 2022.
“It’s the first time in over a decade people can see the situation for what it was,
see me for what I am and that it’s possible to move past mistakes and bad choices.”
“(Programs Coordinator) made sure it felt like a safe environment for me to be in.”
“With the many variables of the accident, it was definitely helpful to feel heard about
the situation and how things have gotten better.”
Circle of Support and Accountability
Circle of Support and Accountability (COSA) volunteers provide group mentoring, with specific objectives and guidelines, to help a person who has committed a serious and violent offense become a productive, safe citizen upon release from prison. A COSA includes three to four volunteers, the reentry participant (core member), and a staff person. COSAs meet weekly and volunteers are encouraged to maintain other contact individually, according to their comfort level.
This support encourages the core member to engage in healthy recreation, overcome addictions, find employment, keep appointments, etc. Staff ensures a coordinated effort with the probation officer, treatment providers, family members, and others involved in the core member's life. Check out Vermont Edition's coverage Addressing Recidivism with Community on VPR on January 6, 2014.
Community Advisory Board
The Community Advisory Board gives community input in setting goals, priorities, and policies for the Montpelier Community Justice Center (MCJC). The 8-15 member group meets regularly with the Director and staff to review the community justice center’s program initiatives and strategic plan progress and to identify ways to promote and support MCJC’s programs.
Effective volunteers are:
- Balanced: Skilled at seeing multiple sides of a person or situation
- Broad Minded: Able to see and appreciate complexities inherent in a situation
- Compassionate: Understanding and caring about people who are victimized and able to be empathetic with someone who has done wrong
- Curious: Open to continuous learning
- Encouraging: Able to recognize, acknowledge, and nurture strengths
- Good Humored: Comfortable with using humor to get through tough and serious situations
- Reliable: Accustomed to following through on commitments
- Self-Regulating: Able to take care of themselves emotionally and respond rather than react
- Sensitive to those who have been harmed: Willing to confront criminal thinking and victim-blaming
Contact Carol Plante at 802-522-5566 or email@example.com to learn more about volunteering.