The Community Justice Network of Vermont is made up of Community Justice Centers and Community Justice Programs statewide. Its mission is to broaden and strengthen Vermont’s restorative practices through leadership, advocacy, education, and partnerships. Community Justice Centers (CJCs) and Community Justice Programs (CJPs) are community based and improve community health and public safety by helping people whose lives are disrupted by conflict or crime. They recognize the potential for citizens to live in harmony with their neighbors and to contribute to the civility and well-being of the community. In addition, CJCs/CJPs play a key role in successful offender re-entry to communities, including; intensive support services related to employment, housing, mentoring, social life and restoring the harm caused by their crime. The network is a 501(c) 3 non-profit and focuses on education, outreach, data collection, standards and best practice, communication/information sharing, training, networking and pursues grant funding opportunities on behalf of its members.
Basic Values of Restorative Justice
1. Offensive actions are assessed in terms of harm to people, damage to relationships, and the disruption of peace in the community.
2. The goal of restorative justice processes is to build understanding, encourage accountability, and provide an opportunity for healing.
3. Restorative justice is collaborative and inclusive; those responsible and affected by wrongdoing as well as the community are involved in finding solutions that seek to repair harm and promote harmony.
4. The dignity and needs of those affected by wrongdoing are honored and assistance in getting those needs met is offered. Affected parties have a forum to ask questions, receive answers, gain understanding, explain the impact of the offensive behavior on them, contribute to the outcome of the process, and seek closure.
5. The person who wronged others has personal responsibility to those affected and to the community.
6. Stakeholders in the community share responsibility for restorative justice. The community has an opportunity to articulate its values and expectations, to understand the underlying causes of offensive behavior, and to determine what can be done to repair the damage caused.
7. The person responsible for wrongdoing is encouraged to be accountable in a meaningful way by gaining insight into the causes and effects of his/her actions of others, to change the offending behavior, to make amends, and to be accepted back into the community.
8. The restorative justice approach can contribute to a community’s well-being and potentially reduce conflict and crime.