News Releases

May 05, 2008

Governor Signs Community Justice Center Bill into Law

Community Justice Improves Outcomes, Saves Money

Montpelier, Vt. – Governor Jim Douglas today signed into law a bill codifying the role of community restorative justice programs in Vermont’s criminal justice laws and setting the stage for more throughout the state.

There are currently 13 Community Justice Centers in Vermont. The municipally-based programs are a product of the state’s statutory Restorative Justice Policy.

Governor Douglas said the primary purpose of Community Justice Centers is to provide criminal justice services such as reparative probation, re-entry programs and pre-charge services based on restorative principles.

“The scope and variety of the undertakings of existing centers encompass a wide array of services and activities that serve to engage citizens, render justice, address community problems, enhance community safety and generally improve quality of life,” the Governor said. “The Centers have become an important part of a community’s infrastructure well positioned to engage citizens and support effective problem solving.”

These services not only benefit the host communities, they also result in cost benefits to both the municipality and the state, the Governor added.

State officials said during the first three quarters of FY 08, these programs handled over 700 Reparative Probation cases, over 250 direct referral criminal cases, and about 40 civil dispute cases. The majority of these cases resulted in positive outcomes and deflected cases from the more costly alternatives, such as our courts and corrections. Most Centers receive a basic grant in the amount of $67,500-- about the cost of one DOC experienced caseworker or the cost of incarcerating one offender in Vermont for about a year and a half.

The bill Governor Douglas signed makes Community Justice Centers an official, authorized element of the state’s corrections policy and provides a framework for expanded community justice services in Vermont.

“This new law recognizes the benefits of the work of these community justice programs and will encourage other municipalities to consider establishing a center in their communities,” the Governor said.

Source: Office of the Governor
Last Updated at: May 05, 2008 15:59:16