Supported and funded by the Juvenile Justice Crime Prevention Act, VORP is a restorative process which provides victims with the opportunity to meet the first time juvenile offender in a safe and structured setting. VORP’s goal is holding the offender directly accountable for his/her behavior and to give the victim the opportunity of asking “why me?” VORP also aspires to “make things as right as possible” with the offender, the victim, and the community. With the assistance of trained volunteer mediators, the victim is able to let the offender know how the crime affected him/her, to receive the answers to the questions they may have and to be directly involved in developing a restitution plan. Offenders are able to take responsibility for their behavior, to learn the full impact of their offense, and to participate in a plan for making amends and/or restitution. When the agreed upon restitution/agreement has been met the legal case is closed, allowing the offender to not have to go to court and have this offense on their record. Currently, we have 37 volunteer mediators conducting on average 60 cases a year, impacting the offender, the victim, and approximately 360 other immediate family and community members. Over 87.6% of our offenders do not reoffend.
“The VORP program is a very supportive program that helps people like us that make these kinds of mistakes. This program gave me a chance to say what I wanted to say. Thanks to the VORP program I am given a second chance, and I am very thankful for that.” Male Minor, 14
Translated from Spanish: “I was very scared of the offender who stole my phone from me, I ran out of the store one time when I saw him there. When I sat down and met him at the mediation process, I realized he was just a boy and I wanted to help him down the right path. I was able to tell him how important my phone was to speak to my children in Mexico. It felt good to share to him and to also hear from him. We agreed to go running together and now when I see him he is a friend not an enemy.” Female victim in her 30’s
MAP is an innovative application of the VORP process which focuses directly on the pervasive crime of juvenile shoplifting. It was created by VORP in collaboration with the Monterey County Probation Department’s Restorative Justice Coordinator. Youth shop lifters are held accountable in a highly successful mediation process that brings a group of 4-6 youths to face the Merchant Representatives in a restorative, non-threatening venue. Each youth has the opportunity to tell his/her story and to listen to the Merchant Representative explain the consequences of their behavior on the store’s employees, management, the community, the police, and their families. As in all restorative justice processes, the intent is to “make things right as much as possible.” Restitution is agreed upon, and a letter of apology is written by the youth to the Merchant Representative. When all of the details of the agreement are successfully fulfilled, the case is closed and the youth is cleared of the charges. We receive on average 180 referral cases from the Monterey County Probation Department impacting the offender, the merchant and approximately 480 other immediate community members. Since 2003 we have operated at the Northridge Mall in Salinas and from 2009 with the Del Monte Shopping Center in Monterey to implement the program.
“I’m not happy I stole but I am happy I got caught… to be able to have this life changing experience before I turned 18.” Female minor, 17, was a great speaker and spoke from the heart; which is not easy in a room of strangers. She said she turned her life around after participating in MAP. Now, appreciating all she has she gets good grades and stays positive about her future.
Geared toward helping offenders become more aware of the long-range impact crime has on victims, their families, and the community.
Circle of Hope is for community members who have loved ones incarcerated.
Reintegration Circles are a process to assist people released from prison in preparing a successful reentry.
Community Building and Problem Solving Circles view community members as the experts in their own problems and solutions.
Restorative Justice in the Schools Program (RJ in the Schools) was started in 2010 partnering with one elementary school district and now has grown to actively serve nearly 25 schools spanning five districts and grades K-12. RJ in the Schools offers professional development training for staff, peer mediation training for students, and practical tools for community building and finding solutions with one another. Read more