Restorative Justice Panels are made up of volunteers trained in restorative practices who meet with people who have committed offenses and their victims and supporters, if any, to have a conversation about what happened and what the offender can do to deepen his or her understanding of the harm, make amends to those who need it, make a positive connection with community and make a plan to not reoffend. The person who offended makes an agreement with the Panel and has two to three months to complete what s/he has agreed to do. This is different from Community Sentencing in that the process is collaborative and all must agree to the outcome.
Circles of Support and Accountability (COSAs) are groups of three volunteers and a staff person who work with someone (a “core member”) who is returning to his or her community from prison on what is called “conditional furlough” status. The core member has completed his or her minimum sentence but still has at least a year to serve before reaching his or her maximum. Conditional furlough has been described as “incarceration within the community” since the core member is still under Department of Corrections supervision and can be returned to prison if s/he violates the rules set forth in the written furlough.
Family Group Conferences engage a group of participants that includes the support people for both the victim and the offender, relevant professionals and a facilitator. All participants have an opportunity to talk about the offense, to express their feelings and concerns, and to get answers to their questions. All participants can also express opinions on how the offender should make amends. Many times the resulting agreement includes activities not only for the person who offended, but also commitments by supporters and family members to do what they can to help the offender stay on the right path and complete his or her agreement.
Community Conflict Assistance is offered free of charge to members of the community by mediators who help to resolve neighbor disputes over things like property boundaries, animal complaints, noise and other neighborhood issues. Mediators are neutral parties who work with those in dispute to help them arrive at a mutually agreeable solution to the problem.
Restorative Victim Services provide community-based emotional support and resource navigation to victims of property crimes, in the immediate aftermath of the event. Victims are invited to participate in all restorative justice programs to the extent that they feel comfortable.