Join the Restorative Justice Movement!
All community justice centers rely on volunteers to deliver services to their clients—whether by serving as a Victim Liaison, a member of a Restorative Justice Panel or a member of a Circle of Support and Accountability (COSA). All volunteers submit an application to the Department of Corrections and undergo background checks. Check your local community justice center website for the needs in your area.
All CJCs have governing bodies comprising representatives from the community who advise the director on strategy and goal setting. These may be Boards of Directors, Citizen Advisory Boards or may go by some other name, but their purpose is to provide input essential to keep the CJCs grounded in their communities and responsive to local needs.
A Victim Liaison is a specially trained volunteer who contacts victims of crimes referred to CJCs to explain the programs and invite them to participate in a restorative activity (usually a Restorative Justice Panel). Victim Liaisons listen to victims’ stories, offer options for participation in restorative activities and keep victims’ needs in the forefront of panel or COSA meetings.
Restorative Justice Panel Members meet at designated times in groups of four or five to have a conversation with a person who has committed a misdemeanor and, together with supporters and victims, explore activities the person who offended can do to deepen his/her understanding of the harm, make amends to those who have been hurt, make a positive connection with community and make a plan to not reoffend. Panel members usually meet about four hours a month and commit to volunteering for at least a year.
Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) Members work in groups of three to five (plus a staff person) for a minimum of one year to provide mentoring and support for someone (a core member) as he or she transitions from prison to community. Volunteers offer their time, compassion and energy as a member of a growing network of people who are committed to the safety of their community and the successful reentry of core members.
All volunteers undergo initial training for their particular role and then have subsequent professional development training to enhance their restorative practice skills.