Essex Community Justice Center
137 Iroquois Avenue Suite 101
Essex Junction, Vermont 05452
Phone: (802) 872-7690
The Essex Community Justice Center (CJC) has provided restorative justice approaches to crime and conflict in the greater Essex Community since 2003. Most services are provided by citizens who want to work together to resolve conflict, prevent and address crime locally. Restorative practices focus on repayment and repairing harm to those individuals and the community impacted by a crime. Relationships are rebuilt and the community is stronger when it has a role in addressing crimes that affect the safety and well-being of its residents.
In many cases, low-level offenses can be addressed through CJC programs instead of the criminal justice system which saves the State money that would otherwise be spent on additional law enforcement time, Court staff, and supervision by the Department of Corrections. The Essex Community Justice Center recruits, trains, and supports volunteers for the following programs:
Community Reparative Board: The Reparative Board is a group of citizen volunteers from the Greater Essex Area; including Underhill, Jericho, and Westford; who hold offenders accountable when they have committed a low-level offense and offer victims an opportunity to be part of a restorative justice approach that enables the offender to repair harm, pay restitution for damages, and repay the community through community service work. Cases referred are either:
Pre-charge: Referrals from police officers involving individuals who have committed a low-level offense, are willing to take responsibility and repair harm to the community. Pre-charge cases that are resolved successfully in the community do not result in a court referral, thereby saving the State money that would otherwise be spent on Court staff and Corrections supervision.
Reparative Probation: Court-ordered participation in a restorative process involving victims and the community so that the full impact of the crime is heard and reparations are made. According to a 2007 study by Humphrey, Huey, and Burford, the rates of recidivism drastically decreased by 23% while a person is on reparative probation and the rates remain decreased by 12% post-probation.
Victim Support: Volunteers and staff provide support to victims of criminal cases referred to the CJC. Victims have the opportunity to meet with those who committed the crime, describe the impact, and request action from the offender designed to repair the harm that occurred.
Conflict Resolution: CJC staff and volunteers are available to help community members, local officials, and the local Police Department address community conflict and safety concerns before a crime is committed; including neighborhood conflicts and landlord/ tenant disputes. Approaches to conflict include mediation, facilitated group meetings, and individual consultation.
Community Dialogue and Crime Prevention: Through its partnerships with other community organizations, the CJC develops education programs and facilitates community dialogue focused on crime prevention and addressing safety issues of concern to Essex residents. Examples of benefits received by the Essex community include:
CJC staff facilitated a series of meetings that transformed conflict into partnerships between community residents, municipal leaders, and the police department so that illegal drug activity could be stopped in a neighborhood near the high school.
CJC staff organized and facilitated a public forum for approximately 70 community residents who wanted to develop strategies that would attract businesses, encourage the use of public transportation, and create a vibrant community that discouraged drug activity, vandalism, and mischief. Since the forum, municipal leaders have been working with residents and consultants on a neighborhood revitalization initiative that has resulted in grant development and private donations that will be used to improve the appearance and functionality of a part of town that has been plagued by problems for many years.