Restorative Justice Program
The Restorative Justice Program shifts the primary focus from rehabilitating the offender to restoring the victims of crime and the community while at the same time assisting the offender to better understand the consequences of his/her criminal act.
Under the restorative justice model, criminal cases proceed through the normal court process until adjudication. After the defendant enters a plea of guilty, the presiding judge may take the case under advisement and refer the case to a local restorative justice board. This board, comprised of citizen volunteers who have been trained in restorative justice procedures, hears from the victim and the offender and formulates a plan to address the following goals:
To restore the victims of crime.
To make amends to the community.
To accept responsibility for the crime and understand the consequences of their actions.
To learn ways to avoid re-offending.
The result of this meeting is a restorative justice contract which outlines an array of restorative activities which the offender is required to complete within 60 to 90 days. These activities range from writing a letter of apology to paying restitution to performing community service.
In recent years there has been a renewed interest in the concept of restorative justice in community-based corrections programs. In simple terms, restorative justice is a community corrections approach that focuses on "restoring" the victim and the community while at the same time educating the offender about the consequences of his or her criminal conduct.
This "restorative" approach differs from the traditional criminal justice approach which uses the retributive
model where guilt for a violation against the state is established. In the retributive model, the state is the instrument of retribution which holds the view of punishment as repaying a debt to the state.
The restorative model, on the other hand, recognizes that most crimes are violations of one person or entity by another. This orientation facilitates a problem solving focus between the offender and the victim and the community.
The ultimate goal in restorative justice is for the victim and the community to be restored and for the offender to gain insight into the consequences of their criminal behavior.
The mission of the Blue Ridge Court Services Restorative Justice Program is to provide the Courts of Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County with community sentencing alternatives emphasizing restoration of the victims of crime and the community.
- To restore victims and allow them to regain a sense of control.
- To make amends to the community.
- To accept responsibility for their crime and understand the harm that their actions have caused.
- To learn ways to avoid reoffending.
Participation in the program is voluntary. While restorative justice may be ordered as part of a criminal sentence or as a probation condition, the referral will not be pursued if either the victim or offender is unwilling to participate.
criteria for eligibility includes:
- Non-violent, non-sexual offenders
- Property and larceny offenses
- Offenders must admit their guilt
- Offenders must be willing to participate in restorative justice activities
Failure to complete the Restorative Justice Program will result in the case being returned to court for a Show Cause Hearing.
Restorative Justice Program referrals are made through the local courts. Criminal cases proceed through the normal court process until adjudication, at which time the presiding judge may refer to the offender to the Restorative Justice program to be interviewed by the Restorative Justice Coordinator (RJC). The RJC determines if the offender meets the program eligibility criteria.
Once the offender is accepted into the program:
The RJC investigates the offender's background and prepares a background investigation.
This investigation is forwarded to each member of the Restorative Justice Board (RJB) in advance of the board meeting.
The offender is brought before the next scheduled Restorative Justice Board meeting to discuss the nature and circumstances of the criminal act. Victims are encouraged to attend the meeting or, in the event they can not, to supply a victim impact statement.
After receiving information from the offender and the victim, the RJB sets forth what restorative justice activities the offender must complete in order to restore the victim and the community. The offender signs a behavioral contract with the RJC to complete these restorative justice activities within a specified period of time.
- Victim/Offender Mediation
- Restitution to Victim(s)
- Service on Community Service Work Crews
- Apology Letters
- Writing a Theme Paper
- Public Speaking About Crime Issues
- Conflict Resolution Class
Dave Pastors, Director
Blue Ridge Court Services
125 South New Street
Staunton, VA 24401