The principles of restorative justice, which are the foundation for the community restorative justice program, recognize that criminal behavior violates human relationships, harming some individuals directly and weakening the community as a whole. Attending to the needs of those harmed is of paramount importance in achieving justice.
Restorative justice principles hold that the offender has an obligation to understand the harm he or she has caused and to be an active participant in repairing the harm.
The individual who has been harmed, the person responsible for the harm and the community all have rightful places in devising a response to make things right.
With participation by those victimized, by the probationer and by the community
Process for the probationer:
The restorative process expects probationers to accept responsibility for their behavior and enables them to participate actively in making amends.
Individuals referred to the restorative board will meet with a four- or five-member Community Restorative Justice Board to set certain terms of the probation. A probation officer will take part in the meetings as well.
The probation department will notify the probationer of the date, time and place of the board meeting and provide a set of questions for the probationer to think about before the meeting.
At the initial meeting, the Board will ask the probationer to focus on the impact of his or her behavior for those victimized, including the community. Together board members and the probationer will develop a plan to repair the damage done.
Range of conditions available to the Board to set:
- payment schedule for restitution to the individual harmed
- restitution to the community
- community service
- apology to the individual directly affected
- victim-offender dialogue to or peacemaking circle
- appropriate counseling (for example substance abuse, family issues etc.)
- employment and education
The goal of the conditions is to deepen the probationer's understanding of the impact of or her behavior, to repair the damage for the person harmed and for the community, to learn ways to avoide repeating the same behavior and to encourage the probationer to forge a positive connection with the community.
The probationer will attend monthly board meetings to report on his or her progress torwad accomplishing the established goals.
Process for those who were victimized
It is entirely up to the person victimized to decide if and how to participate in the restorative process.
Once an offender accepts responsibility for his or her actions, the probation department will write to those who were victimized. Then a member of the Board will call those individuals to answer questions about the process, to find out if there are any needs to be addressed, to hear about the effects of the offense, to get input about how the offender might repair the harm done, and to invite the individual(s) harmed to attend the board meeting, with or without the offender.
The person harmed will determine what his or her involvement in the process will be. He or she may ask that the probationer learn about a particular topic. He or she may ask the board member to convey his or her perspective or get answers to questions. He or she may want to meet in a mediated setting with the probationer.
If the individual affected chooses to attend the board meeting, he or she is welcome to bring a support person.
Process for the Community
Each panel of the Community Restorative Justice Board meets once a month to hear new cases and to review probationers' progress in open cases. The boards give the community members a forum to uphold the values of the community, to support and involve those victimized and to build avenues for offenders to make amends.
Restorative Justice panel members