Q: How is Court Diversion different from traditional criminal justice services?
A: Court Diversion is a community-based, restorative justice program. In order to participate in the program, offenders must accept responsibility for violating the law and acknowledge his/her actions. Offenders then meet with a Diversion Board which is made up of community volunteers.
Q: Will I have a criminal record if I participate in Court Diversion?
A: Individuals who successfully complete the diversion program will have his/her charges dismissed and their records will be permanently sealed after two years (provided they do not get into any further trouble with the law.)
Q: What is the difference between JRPP, Reparative Board and Court Diversion?
A: Court Diversion is offered as an alternative to traditional court proceedings. The decision of who is referred to Court Diversion is the decision of the State’s Attorney and is offered as an alternative before a person is adjudicated in court. JRPP is ordered by a family court judge to youth who have been adjudicated in family court. Reparative Board is ordered by Criminal Court as a condition of probation.
Q: Will is I lose my license if I get an underage drinking ticket?
A: If you successfully complete CRJ’s TASP program requirements, then CRJ voids your tickets and it does not get sent to the Vermont Judicial Bureau. If you choose not to participate in the program or if you do not complete all the requirements as outlined in your TASP contract, then your ticket will be issued to the Vermont Judicial Bureau, your license will be suspended for 90 days, and you will be faced with a $300 fine. In addition, your auto insurance will increase substantially.
Q: Are CRJ programs confidential?
A: All CRJ programs are confidential programs. Information will not be released without the individual’s permission except for failure to complete a program, then only the required parts of the program will be disclosed such as notification to the court, State’s Attorney or Judicial Bureau of failure.
Restorative boards and panels
Q: Who will be at my restorative board or panel
A: Trained community volunteers sit on restorative boards and panels. In the event of a conflict of interest, a volunteer will remove him/herself from that panel meeting.
Q. How many people will be at my restorative board or panel meeting?
A. Generally, between 3-5 community volunteers will be present.
Q. How long will the restorative board or panel meetings last?
A. Generally meetings last between 30 and 45 minutes.
Q: What does a contract usually include?
A: While every contract is individualized for each client, typical contracts include letters of apology to the victim, restitution (money paid back for damages done/property not returned), and community service. Contracts may also include research papers, special projects, reflective papers, or participation in an educational or treatment program.
Q: Can I have input in creating my contract?
A: Absolutely! In order for a contract to be meaningful to you and your situation, your thoughtful, reflective input is needed. You will be asked to complete a Reflective Form prior to attending your restorative meeting. At your meeting with the board or panel, you will be asked to share your input from the reflective form regarding what you feel you should do to make amends and what skills you need to learn in order to make better choices in the future.
Q: Where can I do community service?
A: CRJ has a list of Bennington area suggested agencies/programs you can contact to try to set up your community service. However, please be advised that this is not an exclusive list. Community service can take place at a variety of places in the community such as schools, churches, elderly housing, childrens’ programs, etc. The only thing we require is that community service be done with a not-for-profit group/agency. We want you to complete your community service at a place where you feel you can make a difference and where you can benefit from the experience as well.
You will need to submit a time sheet to your CRJ case manager signed by the supervisor at your community service site verifying your completion of community service hours.
Q. What if I do not agree with the contract that is given to me?
A. If you attend a JRP panel meeting and do not agree to the contract the panel creates with you, your case will be sent back to your DCF probation officer and he/she will determine the next course of action. If you do not agree with your Diversion contract, your case will be sent back to court where you will face traditional court proceedings. If you do not agree with your Pre-Charge/KAOS contract, your case will be sent back to the school administration and you will be faced with school sanctions and/or court action.
Q. How long will I be given to complete my contract requirements?
A. Our trained volunteers will give you a reasonable amount of time to complete your contract obligations. The responsibility is yours to make sure you complete all aspects of your contract on time.
Q: Does it cost anything to attend CRJ programs?
A: There are fees for Court Diversion, TASP, and Screening and Education Program Classes.
- Diversion-Family Court – $100
- Diversion- District Court– Misdemeanor- $175
- Diversion- District Court– Felony- $300.
- The TASP Program’s administrative fee is $175
- Screening and Education Program (SEP) which is run by a licensed drug and alcohol counselor is $50.
Various aspects of contract conditions may require you to pay a fee, such as seeking counseling or an assessment. All other CRJ programs are free of charge.
Q: What if I do not have all the money to pay my fees?
A: CRJ is very willing to work out alternative payment plans with individual clients. CRJ case managers will be happy to work with clients to work out plans that fit individuals’ ability to pay.
Q. What forms of payment do you accept?
A. CRJ accepts cash, money orders, and bank checks. Personal checks are not accepted.
Q: CRJ collects donations for the Community Betterment Fund. Where does this money go to?
A: Each spring, the CRJ Board of Directors distributes donations made to the Community Betterment Fund to local non-profit groups and organizations. Last year, CRJ donated over $9,000 from the Community Betterment Fund to Bennington County Crime Victims Fund, Project Graduation/Substance Free Events at MAUHS, Arlington Memorial High School and Burr and Burton Academy, Second Congregational Church and St. Peters Church, and Bennington Police Association Summer youth program.
Q: I noticed CRJ is a non-profit, 501 (c ) 3 organization. How can I donate?
A: There are four ways you can donate to CRJ:
- Volunteer your time to be a member of one of our many restorative boards or panels. Meetings are generally held in the afternoons and early evenings 6 times per month. You would only need to commit to one meeting per month.
- Make a tax-exempt monetary donation. CRJ will be happy to provide you with a letter certifying your donation for tax purposes.
- Donate books, magazines, lights, office furniture, etc. Contact CRJ to see if items you have to donate can be used by the program or clients in the program.
- Donate teen friendly clothes to CRJ’s Emporium. All donated clothing is free and available to any teen who needs clothes for school, work, or job interviews. We accept donations in all sizes of contemporary teen style clothing.