Publication Date

2009

Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

John Ungerleider

Abstract

The Vermont Reparative Probation Panels, established in 1994 by the Department of Corrections, as part of a “bold experiment” to work with non violent offenders and return the concepts of community and reciprocity to the justice system are approaching the 15-year mark. Recognized as the first system of restorative justice to be implemented state-wide, the volunteer staffed panels offer probationers a chance to do something of value for the victim and the community which, in turn, could cause the victim and community to do something for the probationer. The founding vision was that community reparative boards would be “catalysts for positive reciprocity” and agents in building healthy communities (Dembinski, 2004a).

This Capstone research examines the role of community member panelists from the Brattleboro, Vermont Community Justice Center who meet regularly with probationers, and sometimes their victims, to negotiate reparative agreements using restorative processes and following the principles of restorative justice. Using semi-structured face-to-face interviews, the inquiry explored whether long term participation on the panels changed member’s thinking and influenced them to act more restoratively in their own lives and whether those changes had a broader community impact.

The research findings highlight the transformative nature of the Panelist’s experience and document the role of reciprocal change on the Panels. The study demonstrates the link between personal change and the creation of social capital in the Panels’ efforts to build a healthier community.

Disciplines

Criminology | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance

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