Newport Community Justice Center

Barbara Morrow, Director
55 Seymour Lane
Newport, VT  05855

Phone: 802-487-9327

The mission of the Orleans County Restorative Justice Center is to facilitate community action to deal with conflict and crime restoratively. We believe that an effective, committed community is our best tool, and train community volunteers in restorative justice and conflict resolution practices. Our core programs include:

• Restorative Justice Panels rely on trained volunteers and handle cases for the District Court. Each case begins with Court documents, police affidavits, victim interviews, and an OCRJC staff intake meeting with the responsible party. In their first meeting with their Board panel, responsible parties work with victims and Board volunteers to sort out what harm has been done both directly and indirectly (e.g., to the community), and how it can best be repaired. Written Reparative Agreements in the first meeting are followed up in the second (45 days later), and completion is generally expected at the 90 day final meeting. Rarely occurring unsuccessful cases are returned to the State’s Attorney for further action.

• The Pre-Charge or Pre-Adjudication Program operates as the Restorative Justice Panel, and often handles youthful offenders. These cases usually come on the recommendation of law enforcement with the approval of the State’s Attorney, and no formal charges are filed against those who complete the program successfully. The Pre-Charge Program currently sees a fair number of school discipline cases.

• Offender Reentry Programs include mentoring, and Circles of Support and Accountability” for offenders coming out of prison. Based on a successful Canadian model, COSAs facilitate transitions, reducing recidivism and prison costs.

Additionally, we are always interested in good ideas which fit within our mission. So, for example, we have funded and organized a popular “Community Commons” monthly discussion project for the community for over 2 years. We plan to launch a low or pro-bono legal clinic. We are active in the county-wide drug take back program with local law enforcements and pharmacies. There is often new and innovative work being accomplished through these projects, and also through our primary partner, the Vt. Dept. of Corrections.

OCRJC partners with a number of regional organizations, including Newport Community Garden, as well as Northeast Kingdom Learning Services, Umbrella, Northeast Kingdom Human Services, Northeast Kingdom Community Action, the Department for Children and Families, Newport Probation and Parole, the NEK Department of Health and a host of others. Other activities, including ongoing training, and hosting occasional community forums on matters of local interest or contention, strengthen these and other partnerships.

* This term is used in the sense perhaps presented most accessibly by Howard Zehr in The Little Book of Restorative Justice (Good Books, 2002), and more formally in John Braithwaite’s Crime, shame and reintegration(Cambridge University Press, 1989).

** See “Starting Early, Youthful Offenders’ Reparative Board Experiences” NCJC, November 2009.

*** The Center’s volunteer pools overlap, but are not identical, in its various programs and activities.