Restorative Victim Services

Restorative justice programs and practices are victim-centered. The MCJC offers community-based emotional support and resource navigation to victims of property crimes in the immediate aftermath of the event. In partnership with the Montpelier Police Department, a volunteer with the MCJC reaches out to people who have recently been victims of crime to offer a sympathetic ear and information about services available in the area. 

Victims of crimes whose cases are referred to the MCJC by schools, the police, the State's Attorney or the court for a restorative response are contacted and offered ways to participate in whatever way is comfortable for them. They are invited to meet with those who have offended against them to ask questions and talk about the impact of the incident on themselves and others. If they are unable or do not want to meet face to face, they may participate by speaking with the MCJC Victim Liaison to provide information that they want the offender to hear about how they were affected. Whether to participate at all, and to what degree, is totally up to the victim. 

"The best thing about this conference was sitting around a table face to face, and being able to speak about this situation without the formality of court."
Tree in the Snow with the Sun Shining Through the Branches
Victim Involvement
In all cases referred to the Justice Center, the MCJC makes every attempt to identify persons affected by an offense, to inform them of the restorative justice proceedings, and to invite participation. People who choose to can
  • Get information about their case and how to participate
  • Attend a meeting to ask questions, give information, learn about the offender's thinking, have a discussion, and/or ask for specific actions that will help to make things better
  • Submit information verbally or in writing to inform the restorative process
  • Tell their story
 "A 'human' face was placed on participants. Everyone involved got to ask questions and speak freely."

Positive Outcomes
It is not unusual for victims to have mixed feelings about participating in a restorative justice process. People affected by crime are typically hesitant to do so, but report high levels of satisfaction if they do. The MCJC staff is committed to responding to victims' needs and working to make the process as restorative as possible for all concerned.

"I wanted a chance for this young person to meet us face to face and vice versa, with the opportunity to discuss truthfully how the incident affected us."

FAQs about victim involvement
Do victims have to participate? 
Victim participation is entirely voluntary. However, restorative justice is about bringing the offender, victim and community together in dialogue. It allows victims to hear what was going through the offender's mind at the time of the incident and what he or she has thought about since. Victims are encouraged to tell the story of how the incident affected them and ask questions of the offender to get information to help understand just what happened. 

What is expected of victims?
Victims can participate fully by doing an intake interview with an MCJC representative and by attending the Restorative Justice Panel meetings, or partially by appointing a representative or telling their story to a staff person who may relay it to panel members and the person who offended. 

What kinds of things are appropriate to ask for to “repair harm”?
To be “made whole” can mean restitution (e.g., to cover repairs), to request more information from the offender (e.g., asking, “Why did you choose my house?”), an apology — written or verbal — or service directly for the victim or at a community service site. A staff person asks victims about their needs and expectations ahead of time and helps them to think about what is possible.