Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $340,000)
Building on the work of the Restorative Arlington initiative, which resulted in a countywide restorative justice strategic plan adopted by Arlington County Board in 2020, The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney (OCA) seeks to design and implement a comprehensive restorative justice program serving Arlington County (pop. 236,842) and the City of Falls Church (pop. 14,128).
Specifically, the OCA is applying for the maximum $340,000 grant amount and will apply this funding in FY 22 – FY 23 to developing and launching an innovative paradigm for addressing, reducing, and preventing crime. This new process will focus on a combination of restorative justice practices for healing victims and community members harmed by a crime and also provide opportunities for the people who commit crimes to be held accountable for the harm they caused, that is beyond the scope offered by traditional prosecutorial practices. The OCA expects the project to reduce prosecutor caseload by referring relevant cases for restorative justice services, to realize savings, and to free prosecutors to focus their efforts on cases where traditional prosecutorial practices have been shown to be effective. The data collection and analysis carried out by the project will help the OCA identify which combination of RJ services and other diversion programs produce the best outcomes with respect to addressing the harm caused by a crime, reducing recidivism, and improving public safety. It is also expected this project will empower community members to build greater trust in the judicial system and have their specific needs met in the wake of a crime being committed.
The primary activities of this project include the training of facilitators in RJ practices, including but not limited to a listening circle project focused on victim needs, with the goal of building RJ capacity for the long-term. The project will fund pre- and post-charge facilitations, software to support data needs, and two dedicated staff. A full-time social worker will coordinate with restorative justice facilitators and other evidence-based diversion programs to deliver project services including listening circles, community conferencing and re-entry circles, and ensure adherence to project goals and grant deliverables. And a full-time IT/data specialist will create and track relevant outcome measures to help the OCA identify which combination of RJ services and other diversion programs produce the best outcomes as an alternative compared to traditional prosecution.