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RESTORATIVE JUSTICE PRINCIPLES

Regardless of what level of involvement in the criminal justice system, the Community Justice Centers/Programs and the Court Diversion Programs strive to operate based on the following principles.

  1. Crime is a violation of people and relationships.
    • While crime is a violation of law—an act against the state—the primary concern is the physical, emotional, and social impact crime has on people and relationships.
    • Crime harms and affects people—victims, family members, community members, offenders and others—damages relationships, and disrupts peace in the community.
  2.  Violations create obligations.
    • Each situation is complex and creates obligations to repair harm and to put things as right as possible, as defined by all parties.
    • Offenders have a responsibility for their actions—to gain insight into how their actions have affected others, to make amends, and to learn ways to avoid future re-offense.
    • The community has a responsibility to its members, including supporting victims’ needs and offenders’ responsibility to make amends for the harm they’ve caused.
  3. Restorative Justice engages victims, offenders, and community members—all those affected by the crime—in an effort to put things right.
    • All parties—those affected, those whose actions affected them, and the community—are provided meaningful opportunities to participate, shape the process, and make decisions.
    • Those involved are in the best position to know what it means to put things right for them in their particular situation.
    • Victims determine their level of participation in any restorative process.
    • Victims have the opportunity to talk about the crime from their perspective, identify how their needs may be best met to make things as right as possible for them, and plan for a safe environment.
    • Putting things right includes follow-through and satisfaction with the outcome.

BENEFITS OF COURT DIVERSION

By following a restorative justice approach of addressing the needs of crime victims, the offender, and the community, Diversion provides benefits to many individuals and the community.

Benefits for victims may include:

  • financial restitution for their loss
  • a written or in-person apology
  • the opportunity to voice their views and participate in a restorative justice process
  • learning about the circumstances surrounding the offense
  • knowledge of the effectiveness of Diversion in preventing future criminal behavior

Benefits for offenders include:

  • avoiding a criminal conviction record
  • making  amends to victims and the community in a meaningful way
  • helping to decide how to repair the harm they’ve done — through this process, people can really learn from the experience and are less likely to get in trouble with the law again

Benefits for the community include:

  • volunteers taking an active role in being a part of a restorative justice process
  • effectiveness of Diversion in preventing future criminal behavior (over 84% of successful Diversion participants from 2007-2009 were not subsequently charged with committing a crime up to two years after completing Diversion)
  • cost-effective method (Court Diversion holds offenders accountable outside the costly court system at an average cost of approximately $200 to the State)
  • an alternative that relieves pressure on a crowded court system so prosecutors and others can focus time and energy on significant crime without losing sight of other offenses (The percentage of misdemeanor cases resolved through Diversion has increased each year since 2006 up to close to 10%)

MISSION & GUIDING PRINCIPLES

Mission

The mission of court diversion programs is to engage community members in responding to the needs of crime victims, the community, and those who violated the law, holding the latter accountable in a manner that promotes responsible behavior

Guiding Principles

  1. Ensure that the applicant acknowledges responsibility for violating the law.
  2. Focus on the harm experienced by the victim, the person who violated the law, and the community.
  3. Show respect and empathy for all parties.
  4. Ensure opportunities for victims to have a voice.
  5. Provide opportunities for the person who violated the law to repair the harm and to learn how to address the underlying causes for the violation, empowering him/her to make more positive life choices.
  6. Actively involve the community in the response to the harm experienced by all parties.
  7. Develop contract obligations that relate to repairing the harm, are achievable, and, where appropriate, address the underlying causes for the behavior.
  8. Ensure by the end of the process, that the person who violated the law has had the opportunity to develop an understanding of how his/her actions affected others.

Paid for by Blackwelder for Wake County
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