kindness is magic
Photography by Stephen Restelli
People are coming out of prison and returning to the Barre community on a weekly basis. These are not new members to the community. These are people who have significant ties to the area; they are returning to their families and their community and need support.
You can make a difference. We need teams of volunteers willing to work with offenders as they transition from prison back into our community. This program has a proven track record in lowering recidivism (reoffending); thus, making the community safer and keeping people from being re-incarcerated.
COSA’s are made up of community volunteers who meet once a week with offenders encouraging those coming out of prison to create strong bonds of support, friendship and accountability as they work to become healthy members of society. Your role is to offer mentorship and support to an offender who has expressed a desire to change and a commitment to cause no more harm. As a trained team, the group will help to establish clear expectations for the offender with regard to community behavior and responsibility. The commitment is for one year of service.
Serving on a Restorative Justice Panel, community members work as a team with 3-5 other Panel members to conduct a structured problem-solving meeting with persons responsible for and affected by a crime. This meeting is focused on understanding the harm caused, how the offender will make amends, and actions the offender will take to avoid re-offending. Staying away from a punitive mindset, as a Panel member you would represent the community perspective and ensure a restorative justice response to the crime committed. The team, along with active involvement from the offender and affected parties, construct a plan for the offender to make amends.
Restorative Justice Panel members serve the community in two ways. First, they help people affected by crime be heard and have their needs attended to. And second, they support people who have done wrong to understand the impact their actions have on victims, affected parties and the community.
Training is required for this position. There are 1-2 meetings/month, which go for 2-3 hours. A commitment of one year is preferred.