We work with groups of juvenile offenders and prison inmates to help them develop empathy for their victims though understanding the impact of their actions on the lives of victims, family members and communities. This interactive program utilizes personal experiences, video clips, hands on activities, testimony by surrogate victims and self reflection. Statistics show that when people understand how their actions affect others they are less likely to commit further crimes. To date, eight groups of youth have completed the program as well as inmates at two Virginia correctional facilities.
Restorative Community Conferencing
Restorative Community Conferencing (RCC) is a voluntary, collaborative, dialogue-driven process that allows individuals directly affected by crime to actively participate in deciding and implementing the response. It is similar to Victim Offender Conferencing but involves more people.
The “community” is that which is directly affected by a crime; for instance a school, a neighborhood or a church. Crime rarely affects just one person so the RCC process aims to give voice to all those who are impacted by a wrongdoing and have them decide the outcome.
Assisted by a trained facilitator, parties affected by crime meet in a safe space to discuss what happened, what thoughts led up to the incident, how the parties felt at the time and how they feel now, and what is needed to repair the harm done (to the extent possible).
Those most impacted by the crime make the important decisions about how to repair the harm and create a mutually acceptable agreement. Possibilities include but are not limited to letters of apology, offender contracts to replace the victim’s out-of-pocket losses, community or personal service, and personal improvement classes
Collaboration with the Harrisonburg Police Department
The FairField Center and Harrisonburg Police Department joined with personnel from EMU, JMU, the Commonwealth Attorney’s office, local defense attorneys and city schools to create a community based Restorative Justice program in the City of Harrisonburg. Cases referred by the police department will be processed through RCC and where successful, no further action will be taken.
A team of experienced trainers from EMU, JMU and FairField Center have trained about thirty police officers and court personnel, and many educators in the basics of restorative justice so that they understand the benefits of utilizing restorative practices in the resolution of crime and wrongdoing.