Programs

The goal of all our programs

is to make Rutland County safer through the use of restorative justice. Our mission is to engage community members in responding to the needs of crime victims, the community, and those who violate the law, holding the latter accountable in a manner that promotes responsible and restorative behavior.

Restorative Justice 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.

*Restorative justice principles collaboratively developed by the Community Justice Network of Vermont and the Vermont Association of Court Diversion Programs in June 2012*

Sponsored Programs:

Traditional Diversion

Diversion is a voluntary and confidential community-based alternative to the formal court process for certain juvenile and adult offenders. The State’s Attorney refers each case on an individual basis.

The goals of this program are:

  • Foster participant responsibility and positive qualities
  • Repair the harm caused by criminal actions
  • Reduce recidivism

To be accepted into the program, the participant must take responsibility for his/her unlawful actions for which they are being referred. If accepted, participants meet with their Diversion case manager and a restorative panel of trained volunteers. During this meeting, all parties will be involved in developing a contract, which outlines specific ways the participant can repair the harm caused by the offense and prevent the offense from happening again.

Diversion will attempt to contact every victim to appropriately compensate them for their losses or hardships. Victims are free to choose their level of engagement with the program; participation is encouraged, but is not obligatory.

Example contract conditions include:

  • Community service
  • Participate in an educational program
  • Engage in mental health and/or substance abuse counseling
  • Complete anger management
  • Letter of apology
  • Donation to a non-profit agency
  • Research paper
  • Restitution

If a participant successfully completes all tasks outlined in the contract, the charge will be dismissed by the state. If the participant does not get in further legal trouble for two years following the dismissal, the charge will be automatically expunged from the participant's record. If, however, the participant does not adhere to his/her contract, the participant will be returned to court for prosecution.

Program Contact:
We are currently hiring for a Diversion case manager. If you would like to speak with a Diversion representative and/or you are a Diversion participant, please contact our office at (802) 775-2479.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation during this time of transition.

Youth Substance Abuse & Safety Program (YSASP)

YSASP works with individuals ages 16 through 20 that have been cited for underage drinking and/or possession of marijuana (an ounce or less). The goals of the program are to:

  • Hold youth accountable for their violation
  • Educate youth about the consequences and risks of substances
  • Identify youth with potential substance abuse problems so that they might receive treatment

Individuals are referred to this program by law enforcement through a “Notice to Report.” Participation in the program is voluntary. Requirements of this program are tailored to each case, but participants may need to do the following:

  • Pay program participation fee
  • Complete a substance abuse screening/assessment and follow all recommendations
  • Meet with a certified substance abuse counselor
  • Participate in an educational program
  • Complete community service

If the participant successfully completes the program, their driver’s license is not suspended and there is no adjudication on their record. If an individual chooses not to participate or fails to complete the program, a ticket is issued to the individual and the Vermont Judicial Bureau. Individuals may contest the ticket through the Vermont Judicial Bureau. If found in violation, the Vermont Judicial Bureau imposes a $300 fine and informs the Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend the individual’s license for 30 days. Due to this suspension, individuals will need to pay a reinstatement fee and automobile insurance rates may increase.

Program Contact:
Sarah Aines, DLS & YSASP Coordinator
Email: sainescasemanager@comcast.net
Phone: (802) 775-2479, ext. 19 or 786-3840

Driving with License Suspended

The Civil DLS diversion program is designed to help individuals under suspension regain their driver’s license while they pay outstanding fees and fines.

The DLS case manager communicates with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Vermont Judicial Bureau to determine the requirements for reinstatement. Following this, participants will work with the DLS case manager to develop a contract, including a payment plan. This payment plan will be tailored to the participant’s financial situation.

Some individuals may be eligible for a reduction in their debt. Some participants may provide community service and/or participate in an educational program in exchange for a reduction in fees and fines owed. Reductions will be made on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the DLS case manager as allowed by law and program policies. Eligibility for such reduction is based on the participant’s financial situation. Not all participants or tickets will be eligible for a reduction.

This contract will be presented as a motion to the Vermont Judicial Bureau (VJB) for review. If approved by the VJB Hearing Officer, DMV is notified of the participant’s compliance with VJB. The participant must still satisfy reinstatement requirements before regaining their license. These reinstatement requirements may include: obtaining SR22 insurance, resolve traffic fines owed to other states, et cetera.

Upon completion of these reinstatement requirements, the participant will receive notification from DMV that their license has been reinstated. As long as the participant continues to adhere to their DLS program contract, they will be permitted to drive.

During this program, participants will be expected to do the following:

  • Attend an initial meeting to discuss:
    • Reasons for suspension
    • Their financial situation
    • Steps they must take to regain their license
    • How to pay off their fines and fees
  • Complete a financial affidavit outlining personal income and expenses
  • Develop and adhere to a contract, including a payment plan
  • Attend follow up meetings as necessary
  • Maintain appropriate level of communication with case manager
  • Pay program fee of up to $175 (may be eligible for reduction)

If a person successfully completes the DLS program, all past civil violations will not count towards more serious criminal charges. Failure to adhere to the contract, including payment plan, leads to suspension of the participant’s license.

Not everyone is eligible for participation, such as those who current suspension is the result of a DUI or other serious infraction.

Program Contact:
Sarah Aines, DLS & YSASP Coordinator
Email: sainescasemanager@comcast.net
Phone: (802) 775-2479, ext. 19 or 786-3840

Pretrial Services (Tamarack)

Pretrial Services takes three different forms: Tamarack, Monitoring, and Screenings.

Tamarack:
Tamarack is a diversion-like program designed to assist adults with substance abuse or mental health treatment needs regardless of the person’s criminal history. The intention of this program is to support access to appropriate treatment or other resources with the aim of improving the participant’s health and reducing future adverse involvement in the justice system.

Participation is open to any adult charged with an offense in Criminal Division, except for those charged with certain felony offenses, regardless of criminal history. Cases can be referred to Tamarack before or after arraignment. Referrals are made on an individual basis at the discretion of the State’s Attorney’s office. Participation is voluntary.

To complete the program successfully, participants may need to do the following:

  • Attend intake appointment and follow-up appointments as necessary
  • Complete a mental health and substance abuse screening
  • Develop and adhere to a contract designed to:
    • Address any mental health and substance abuse treatment needs a participant may have
    • Reduce the likelihood of reoffense
    • Repair the harm done by the offense
  • Maintain appropriate level of communication with the Coordinator

Tamarack contracts are based on the specific participant’s needs and circumstances surrounding their illegal activity. Some example contract conditions are:

  • Completing a mental health and/or substance abuse clinical assessment
  • Engage in mental health and/or substance abuse treatment and follow providers’ recommendations
  • Engage with various community resources, such as housing assistance programs
  • Restitution
  • Community service
  • Payment of Tamarack participation program (reductions and payment plans available)

Tamarack will attempt to contact every victim to appropriately compensate them for their losses or hardships. Victims are free to choose their level of engagement with the program; participation is encouraged, but is not obligatory.

Participants successfully complete the program by adhering to their contract conditions. Upon successful completion, the State’s Attorney and Court will be notified and the charge(s) against the participant will be dismissed. If the participant does not get in further legal trouble for two years following the dismissal, the charge will be automatically expunged from the participant's record. Participants may be closed unsuccessfully if they:

  • Fail to remain in contact with the Coordinator
  • Do not adhere to their contract
  • Are charged with another offense

If a participant does not complete the program successfully, prosecution will resume in court.

Monitoring:
The purpose of this program is to support quick connections to treatment supports for individuals with mental health and/or substance abuse treatment needs during the pretrial period. This program is open to any individual charged with an offense, except those charged with an offense punishment by a term of life imprisonment or which requires registration as a sex offender.

Participants may be ordered to engage with pretrial monitoring by the Court, or a person chooses to engage (self-referral). Typically, a self-referral is initiated by the participant’s defense attorney.

The goal of monitoring is to connect participants with community-based services that can persist once their criminal case has concluded.

At or following arraignment, a judge can order a person to:

1) Participate in a needs screening with a Pretrial Services Coordinator

  • The goal is to obtain a preliminary indication of whether a person has a substantial substance abuse or mental health issue that warrants a clinical assessment.
  • Screenings are completed within 3 business day, unless otherwise requested.
  • By law, completed screenings results are given directly to the participants, their attorney, the prosecutor, and the court.
  • If no other services have been ordered, participants have successfully engaged with pretrial services once this screening is complete.

2) Participate in a clinical assessment by a mental health or substance abuse treatment provider and follow the provider’s recommendations

  • The Coordinator connects participants to appropriate treatment providers for a clinical assessment.
  • The Coordinator provides verification clinical assessment attendance and treatment engagement to the Court.
  • The treatment provider determines if the participant is engaged in treatment.
  • Once the assessment is complete, if no treatment has been recommended, the participant has successfully engaged with pretrial services.

3) Engage in pretrial services

  • This may include, but is not limited to:
    • Supporting the participant in meeting conditions of release imposed by the court
    • Connecting the participant with community-based treatment programs, rehabilitative services, and recovery supports
    • Other aspects of pretrial services as described above

Once a person is referred to Monitoring, the Coordinator will schedule an initial in-person meeting with the participant. During this appointment, contact information will be exchanged, a needs screening will be completed, and appointments will be set with community-based treatment providers. Participants will be asked to maintain contact with the Coordinator through meetings or phone communication as determined by the Coordinator. Coordinators work with participants until the case concludes in court.

Screenings:
Pretrial services offers three screenings: mental health, substance abuse, and risk assessments. The type(s) of screenings administered depend on the circumstances surrounding the referral.

Participants lodged in Vermont correctional facilities are offered voluntary assessments.

Participants may also be required to complete screenings as part of their engagement with other pretrial services programs.

Pretrial risk assessments are only completed with participants lodged in correctional facilities. The intention is to determine whether a person presents a risk of nonappearance or reoffense, which can aid the court in making an appropriate order concerning bail and pretrial conditions of release.

The purpose of mental health and substance abuse screenings is to obtain a preliminary indication of whether person has a substantial substance abuse or mental health issue that would warrant the need for a more detailed clinical assessment.

Program Contact:
Mikayla Shaw, Pretrial Services Coordinator
Email: mshaw-casework@comcast.net
Cell: (802) 236-7988
Office: (802) 775-2479, ext. 16

Balanced & Restorative Justice (BARJ) program

The BARJ program is open to at-risk, truant, and adjudicated youth (including youthful offenders). Services are highly tailored to the specific youth and circumstances of referral. Typical services include:

  • Mentoring
  • Activities
  • Curfew checks
  • One-on-one support
  • Case management
  • Restitution services
  • Restorative process facilitation
  • Attendance at all relevant meetings (including school meetings and court hearings)

At-Risk:
BARJ accepts at-risk youth referrals from any source, including schools or the Department for Children and Families (DCF). The goal of this program is to reduce the likelihood of youth’s involvement with the juvenile justice system and adult criminal court. BARJ aims to promote prosocial skills and to foster the achievement of positive goals through one-on-one support and care coordination with other community resources.

Truancy:
BARJ works with youth who are considered truant from school for failure to attend 10 or more days in one school year. The goal with truant youth is to identify and overcome barriers to school attendance. BARJ accomplishes this through the promotion of prosocial skills and care coordination with various interested parties, including legal guardians, the Department of Children and Families, and schools.

Adjudicated Youth:
Adjudicated youth, including youthful offenders, can be referred to the BARJ program directly from the court or as a condition of their probation. These youth have been charged with an offense and are asked to complete a restorative process. The restorative process typically includes meeting with the BARJ case manager and a panel of trained community volunteers. The goal of this restorative process is to foster accountability and develop a contract to repair the harm caused by the offense and reduce the likelihood of reoffense. Contracts are tailored to the specific individual referred, the requests of victims (if any), and the circumstances of the offense.

BARJ will attempt to contact every victim to appropriately compensate them for their losses or hardships. Victims are free to choose their level of engagement with the program; participation is encouraged, but is not obligatory.

Example contract conditions include:

  • Community service
  • Participate in an educational program
  • Engage in mental health and/or substance abuse counseling
  • Complete anger management
  • Letter of apology
  • Donation to a non-profit agency
  • Research paper
  • Restitution

To successfully complete the program, the youth needs to attend all necessary appointments, maintain appropriate contact with case manager, and adhere to all terms of their contract. If a youth referred directly from Family Court successfully completes the program, Family Court is notified and the youth faces no further adjudication. If the youth is referred as a part of probation, the youth’s DCF probation officer is notified.

If the youth referred directly from Family Court does not successfully complete the program, Family Court is notified and further court action may occur. If the youth is referred as a part of probation, the youth’s DCF probation officer is notified and it may be considered a violation of probation.

Program Contact:

Audrey Phillip, BARJ Case Manager
Email: aphillip.rcrjc@comcast.net
Cell: (802) 417-7438
Office: (802) 775-2479, ext. 15

 

Downstream Thinking

Downstream Thinking is a two-part course designed to foster prosocial skills, such as emotional intelligence and conflict resolution. Participants will work on identifying their positive qualities and goals through various activities, including a vision board. The course is open to all individuals ages nine through twenty-five. This course may be a contract condition for another program (e.g., BARJ) or participants can self-refer. Educators may also request the course be taught in their school, including athletic teams or entire classes.

Program Contact:
Rick Bjorn, Executive Director
Email: rbcourtdiversion@comcast.net
Office: (802) 775-2479, ext. 11

Emotional Intelligence Mentoring (Partnership with Mentor Connector)

*We are proud to partner with Mentor Connector to offer this program*

Emotional Intelligence Mentoring is comprised of five forty-five minute sessions taught directly in schools. With this program, we foster youth's social and emotional skills with the intent of allowing them to become productive members of society, including successive careers and reduced adverse involvement with our legal system. We use numerous hands-on activities to make the course fun and engaging for all participating youth. By doing so, we hope to ensure that youth remember the lessons and understand how to apply them in practical situations. These sessions also allow us to get to know each youth involved, so we can identity youth who may benefit from being matched with a mentor. These mentors form a long-term relationship with each youth, fostering each youth's strengths and positive attributes. This positive relationship is key in many youth's lives as they grow and evolve with their mentor.

Our role: We are proud to have played an active role in the development of this course's curriculum. We also facilitate the course in local schools, working directly with students and school personnel to ensure youth's success in this course and beyond. From there, we identity and refer appropriate youth to the Mentor Connector to be matched with a mentor.

*Please contact us today if you are interested in hosting this program at your school!

Program Contact:

Rick Bjorn, Executive Director
Email: rbcourtdiversion@comcast.net
Office: (802) 775-2479, ext. 11

**This program is funded by United Way**

Opioid Family Mentoring (Partnership with Mentor Connector)

*We are proud to partner with Mentor Connector to offer this program*

In this program, families are matched with a family mentor plus one youth mentor for each youth aged 8-16. The goal of this program is to foster family resilience and self-sufficiency, as well as increasing the youth's protective factors to enable their ability to refrain from generational substance abuse. This is achieved through:

  • connections with appropriate community-based resources
  • fostering parents' ability to make informed parenting decisions
  • promoting a healthy lifestyle
  • supporting youth's social, emotional, educational, and workforce development growth
  • developing a positive, trusting relationship with youth through fun weekly activities
  • coaching parents on clear substance abuse prevention messaging for their children

Our role: We support the youth's development of life skills, managing stressing, and creating a vision for their life through a three-session Youth Thrive Life Skills course. This course is taught to both the youth and their mentors to ensure mentors have the knowledge and skills necessary to reinforce these skills in youth far beyond the cessation of the course. These skills are crucial to the development of the youth's conflict-resolution skills, planning skills, positive attributes, and resiliency.

Program Contact:
For information pertaining to this program, please contact the Mentor Connector. Their office is located at 110 Merchant's Row, Rutland, Vermont 05701. You can contact them directly by calling (802) 775-3434 or visiting their website at https://mentorconnector.com/.