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All About Restorative Justice In Estes Park

The Estes Valley Restorative Justice Partnership (EVRJP) exists to reduce crime and disorder by applying six principles of Restorative Justice:  1). repair of harm to victims, offenders, and community, 2). reconciliation and repair of relationships, 3). reintegration into the community, 4). responsibility taken by all individuals for their part in the incident, 5). restitution to the victims, 6). respect given and received by all. This mission is accomplished through a very unique structure that embodies the spirit of community and partnership. The Executive Director of the organization is a Town of Estes Park employee-Community Services Manager for the Estes Park Police Department. A portion of that position is then on loan to the EVRJP, 501c3, Board of Directors to administer the non-profit portion of the organization. In addition, there is a part-time Case Manager for the program who works directly with clients and arranges conferences through volunteer facilitators. There are about twenty trained volunteer facilitators and forty additional volunteers who serve as community representatives.

The organization applies restorative principals through the administration of two programs: Community Group Conferences and Community Circles. The Community Group Conference Model accepts referrals from the Estes Park Municipal Court, the Estes Park Police Department, and the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office. Each case is reviewed by staff and assigned to a volunteer team who follow through to the conclusion. The process involves two types of meetings:  pre-conferences and conferences. The former is an individual meeting with victim and offender. The purpose is to gather information and find out who was affected and how. The community group conference is a face to face meeting of victim, offender, and community where the focus is the harm resulting from the crime and then the repair necessary to repair the harm. The repair is written in contract form and turned into EVRJP. If the offender completes the contract items then there is no criminal entry on their record.  If the offender fails to complete, then the case is referred back to the originating agency. The RJ program started out as a juvenile program but is now being used for adult offenders as well.

The Community Group Conference program has been in existence for five years now and the data speaks for itself. 100% of conferences have come to an agreement by the end of the conference and have formed a contract. 89% of offenders completed their contract. 80% of the offenders who have gone through the Community Group Conference process do not re-offend for the 18 months that they are monitored. 98% of participants have been satisfied or very satisfied with the process. The Community Circles program has only been in operation for about 1.5 years. It has seen two core members in that time and to date, neither has received any additional charges. Both have received a GED and both are currently employed.

What Do Facilitators Have To Say About Restorative Justice?

The Estes Valley Restorative Justice Partnership (EVRJP) is composed of a Board of Directors, Executive Director, Case Manager and a team of Volunteer Facilitators. Restorative Justice assists the offender to take responsibility for an incident and then repair the harms experienced by the victim and community. The effectiveness of the EVRJP is dependent upon the two facilitators assigned to each case. These facilitators organize and meet with offenders and victims in separate pre-conferences, coordinate and arrange the Community Group Conference (CGC), and upon completion of the offender contract, conduct the post-conference with CGC participants.

There are many reasons Estes Park citizens volunteer to be involved in Restorative Justice. Jack Burns states that “RJ gives me the opportunity to give back to the Estes Park community.” While Monty Miller proposes that he volunteers because, “In RJ we are creating a constructive learning experience for offender, victim and community.” Melissa Westover benefits from the “service to the community and especially the youth. It is restoration rather than punishment.”

One way Restorative Justice is effective is by “listening to both offender and the victim,” says Paula Fardulis. Steve Misch elaborates “when you place the victim in front of the offender, in a healthy and safe environment, a great outcome is possible.” Melissa Westover establishes that Estes Park youth learn “that they live within a community of people who care and believe in second chances.” Jim Martinsen sums it up by saying it is “A very supportive  process for victim, offender and the community.”

If you would like to join the EVRJP Volunteer Facilitator Team, contact Mike Crabbs, Case Manager, at 577-3829, or mcrabbs@estes.org, and plan to attend the training scheduled for February 24 and 25th, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each day, at the Municipal Building.

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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