Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $433,000)
There are numerous examples where Vermont’s criminal justice systems are systematically failing people in the most marginalized identity groups. Training, education, and consistent, effective data collection tools and practices are necessary to understand and take action to address the ways Vermont’s restorative justice system perpetuates the prevalent inequities in the criminal justice systems. At best, gaps in training and data lead to inconsistencies in how restorative justice agencies deliver services. At worst, these gaps conceal differences in the treatment of diverse populations and make it impossible to monitor and address statewide racial equity and inclusion trends and disparities. By developing shared, consistent, resourced training and data collection, Vermont’s restorative justice agencies will serve as leaders in the state’s racial justice, equity, inclusion, and criminal justice reforms.
The Orange County Restorative Justice Center (OCRJC) and its restorative justice partners will use OJP Byrne Discretionary Community Project Funding to establish A Statewide Initiative to Increase Racial Justice, Equity, and Inclusion in Vermont’s Efforts to Promote Restorative Justice and Alternatives to Incarceration. Through this project, Vermont’s restorative justice programs will collaborate, through development of training and data systems, to be more inclusive and equitable by understanding the historic and current bias within Vermont’s criminal justice systems.
Vermont’s 24 restorative justice agencies comprise a mighty group of state-funded agencies dedicated to criminal justice reform. This project will strengthen this network to assure equity and inclusion for marginalized populations when addressing public safety, mitigating the negative impacts of justice system involvement, and providing holistic responses to repair harm when crime occurs.
This project will increase racial justice, equity, and inclusion in the work of the state’s restorative justice agencies by: 1) developing, delivering, and institutionalizing statewide professional development trainings across all 24 agencies to address personal and institutionalized racism, implicit bias, trauma, gender equity, and general inclusivity; 2) conducting a statewide data collection process to improve racial justice and inclusion outcomes, including a needs assessment, the creation of standard metrics and collection tools, and the selection of, and agency-onboarding to, a new, shared data management system; and 3) supporting agencies to review and update policies and procedures with the guidance of anti-racism experts.
At conclusion, Vermont’s restorative justice agencies will have embedded, consistent and effective diversity, equity and inclusion training for staff and volunteers; policies, procedures and practices that promote inclusion; and data systems that capture the necessary metrics to provide accountability to these goals.