The South Burlington Community Justice Center (SB CJC) is a program of the City of South Burlington and the South Burlington Police Department. The SB CJC is funded by the VT Department of Corrections, the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services and the Governor's Highway Safety Program. The Center serves the South Burlington community by providing opportunities to address crime and conflict as a community, at the local level, through a restorative justice approach. The mission of the SB CJC is to create and enhance the sense of community in South Burlington by fostering relationships, honest dialogue, respect and healing. We strive to prevent and address crime and conflict in South Burlington by working with those involved through shared decision-making to make things right.
Restorative justice focuses on making amends and repairing relationships when harm occurs through collaborative decision-making involving the people affected. Relationships are rebuilt and the community is stronger when victims, affected parties, offenders, and community members have a role in addressing crimes and issues that affect our safety and well-being. Restorative justice accesses the wisdom of the people most impacted and often rebuilds trust when it is destroyed.
Currently more than 20 community volunteers are integral to the following South Burlington Community Justice Center programs:
Restorative Justice (RJ) Panels: The SB CJC and community volunteers provide opportunities for offenders to take responsibility for their actions and repair the harm they caused when they have committed some types of criminal offenses. Victims of these crimes are welcome to be part of RJ Panels when they want to. Cases are referred by the South Burlington and Shelburne Police Departments, the Chittenden County State’s Attorney’s Office, Superior and Family Court, and Chittenden County Probation and Parole. Cases can be either pre-charge or post-conviction. In 2007, research of RJ Panels in VT showed a reduction in the rate of recidivism by 23% in the initial years and by 12% over several years. Over 80% of offenders successfully complete their work with the SB RJ Panels.
The South Burlington Community Justice Center also supports the RJ Panels for Shelburne and Charlotte. These cases are both pre-charge and post-conviction as well.
- Connected to RJ Panels: The SB CJC and community volunteers provide support to victims of criminal cases referred to the CJC. Victims have the opportunity to meet with those who committed the crime, talk about how the crime affected them, and request action from the offender to repair the harm that occurred.
- Parallel Justice: The SB CJC reaches out to people impacted by crime in South Burlington to see how they are doing and what they need. This may include connecting people with community resources or information. We also work to see what resources are available so that people impacted by crime do not bear the cost of those crimes. We can work with victims of crime who do not want to report the crime to law enforcement as well as those who do.
Conflict Assistance: CJC staff is available to help community members, community organizations, City officials, SB schools, and the SB Police Department address community conflict and safety concerns before a crime is committed. Examples include neighborhood conflicts, landlord/tenant disputes, student conflicts, and more. Approaches vary to fit the circumstances.
Community Dialogue, Education and Crime Prevention: In partnership with the City Council and local faith and community organizations, the SB CJC develops educational programs and facilitates community dialogues focused on crime prevention and issues of concern to SB community members.
Restorative Justice in Schools: When schools are interested in working with the SB CJC, we can provide training, facilitation for implementation planning, and technical assistance to help bring a restorative philosophy, perspective, and practices to a school's climate, culture, and operations. Restorative work in schools involves building a climate and culture in which relationships and community are valued and intentionally developed and sustained so things to go right, as well as repairing relationships and approaching situations as learning opportunities when harm occurs.
Safe Driving Program: The SB CJC offers this program in collaboration with the Essex Community Justice Center for people in Chittenden County who have been charged with impaired or distracted driving criminal offenses. The classes offered by this program provide opportunities for participants to reflect on their decision making, hear from people impacted by driving offenses, understand the impact of their actions, and create new plans for moving ahead in order to make our roads in Chittenden County safer.
In addition the SB CJC is the fiscal agent for the Vermont Safe Driver Program, which occurs in many counties and communities throughout Vermont in order to make our roads throughout Vermont safer.
The SB Community Justice Center is located above the SB Police Department at 19 Gregory Drive.
Lisa Bedinger, CJC Director, can be reached at 846-4215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.