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BILL AS PASSED BY HOUSE 2007-2008

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H.257

AN ACT RELATING TO THE CODIFICATION OF EXISTING COMMUNITY JUSTICE CENTERS

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  24 V.S.A. chapter 58 is added to read:

CHAPTER 58.  COMMUNITY JUSTICE CENTERS

§ 1961.  Legislative findings

(a)  Consistent with the policy of restorative justice established in section 2a of Title 28, local communities in the state have established community justice centers to create a community-administered, nonadversarial process that:

(1)  Resolves conflicts among citizens.

(2)  Repairs damage to communities caused by criminal acts.

(3)  Addresses the wrongs that criminal acts inflict on individuals.

(4)  Responds to a person’s wrongdoing at its earliest onset.

(5)  Reduces the risk of an offender committing a more serious crime in the future that would require a more intensive and costly sanction.

(b)  A system of community justice centers that operates under the authority of a single statute will:

(1)  Help each community justice center collaborate more closely with law enforcement and state’s attorneys, state agencies, social service providers, victim advocacy organizations, and other community resources.

(2)  Enhance the services each community justice center provides.

(3)  Help each community justice center further its policy interest of achieving restorative justice.

§ 1962.  Definitions

As used in this chapter:

(1)  “Legislative body” means the mayor and board of aldermen of a city, a city council, a town selectboard, or the president and trustees of an incorporated village.

(2)  “Municipality” means a city, town, or incorporated village.

§ 1963.  Authority of municipalities

The legislative body of any municipality may create within its jurisdiction a community justice center to resolve civil disputes and address the wrongdoings of individuals who have committed municipal, juvenile, or criminal offenses.

§ 1964.  STRUCTURE OF THE COMMUNITY JUSTICE BOARDS

Each community justice center:

(1)  Shall have an advisory board comprised of 51 percent citizen volunteers.

(2)  May use a variety of restorative justice approaches, including community panels or boards, group conferencing, or mediation.

(3)  Shall include programs to resolve disputes, address the needs of victims, address the wrongdoing of the offender, and promote the rehabilitation of youthful and adult offenders.

§ 1965.  duties of the community justice centers

Each community justice center:

(1)  Shall work in close coordination with state agencies, law enforcement agencies, state’s attorneys, social service providers, victim advocacy organizations, and other community resources in administering the programs defined in subdivision 1964(3) of this title.

(2)  Shall, in collaboration with state and local agencies, provide training on the restorative justice process to citizen volunteers to enable their participation in the local community justice center.

(3)  May address quality of life issues in the community it serves by providing informational and educational resources to the community.

(4)  May, in addition to the funding it receives from the state, apply for funding from private foundations, other governmental sources, or other sources.

§ 1966.  Community JUSTICE centers’ relationship with state government entities

(a)  The agency of human services shall provide to the community justice centers the information, analysis, and technical and financial support which the community justice centers, in collaboration with the agency of human services, determine are necessary to further their policy of restorative justice.

(b)  Funding from the agency of human services.  The agency of human services may provide funding and authorize community justice centers to participate in the implementation of state programs related to juvenile and criminal offenses.

(c)  Access to information.  Community justice center employees and volunteers participating in state-funded programs shall have access to information, analysis, and technical support as necessary to carry out their duties within the program in accordance with state and federal confidentiality statutes and policies.

(d)  Liability.

(1)  For the purposes of defining liability, community justice center volunteers participating in programs funded by the agency of human services pursuant to subsection (b) of this section shall be considered volunteers of that agency.

(2)  In all other cases, the state and the municipality shall each be liable for the acts and omissions of employees operating within the scope of their employment.

(e)  The agency of human services, the attorney general, and community justice center directors shall study methods to expand the number of community justice centers in order to serve municipalities without community justice centers.  The study shall include consideration of how municipalities could work jointly to facilitate the expansion of community justice center services.   

§ 1967.  CASES PROHIBITED

No case involving domestic violence, domestic assault, sexual violence, sexual assault, or stalking shall be referred to a community justice center except in department of corrections offender reentry programs pursuant to protocols protecting victims.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us