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Restorative Justice

An Example Of Systemic Change

In 1994, the Vermont Department of Corrections embarked on one of the most ambitious system-wide restorative justice initiatives. Following a public opinion poll that indicated broad dissatisfaction with the criminal justice system and openness to more restorative and community-based responses to nonviolent crime, the department "took a wrecking ball" and demolished a one-hundred-year-old correctional system built upon the options of either prison or probation. They were able to identify up to 50 percent of the current probation caseload that they believed could be held accountable by Reparative Probation Community Boards made up of citizen volunteers. Instead of traditional probation supervision, a wide range of property offenders would be referred directly to a Reparative Community Board. In dialogue with the offender, the board determines a community-based restorative sanction, oftentimes including victim offender mediation, community service, or meeting with a victim panel. The Department is now encouraging crime victims to be represented on each Reparative Probation Community Board. Few other restorative justice initiatives in the United States represent such a major structural change that clearly elevates the role of community volunteers and crime victims in the process of holding offenders accountable to the community they violated.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawRestorative Justice - What Is Restorative Justice?, What Does Restorative Justice Look Like In Practice?, How Widespread Is Interest In Restorative Justice?