Greater Barre Community Justice Center
20 Auditorium Hill, Barre, VT 05641 802-476-0276
 
 

 

A sampling of restorative success stories, along with some quotes from the participants
Neighbor Dispute (Mediation)
Upstairs/downstairs neighbor dispute over noise and alleged theft. Through mediation, the parties uncovered misunderstandings that showed them how the conflict escalated, resolved that they wanted to live peacefully, and discovered that they valued their previous friendship and made amends.
"I am very pleased with the results of the mediation and the support from the mediators. I would recommend it to others that cannot resolve issues by themselves. I wish we had done the mediation sooner because I missed a lot of time with my friend."

"As a board member, you engage in and model relationships with members of your community. You get to make a ‘hands-on’ difference in the lives of others, and in your own life as well."

"You get to see the power of a sincere apology."

Passing a Bad Check (Reparative Board)
A man charged with passing bad checks sits down with the store owner to hear how his actions affected the owner, the store and the community. At the Reparative meeting, the store owner was in a safe place to vent his anger and frustration, tell the offender what it cost him in time, money, and in changes to check cashing policy. Community members told how a no check policy affected them. The offender told everyone why he knowingly passed a bad check, and apologized in person to the store owner. An agreement was created ending the meeting with the store owner and offender shaking hands.

Barre City Teacher's Strike (Community Forum)
One hundred people participated in a community forum during a teachers strike involving the city school district. Through small group work answering questions such as, “how has the strike affected you?”, “given your beliefs about the strike, where are the gray areas for you?” and sharing questions and concerns for the school board and union, participants had a safe space to voice themselves and understand each other’s point of view.
"I was impressed with the GBCJC staff's ability to pull together a community forum on the Barre teachers' strike at such short notice. The meeting helped people to understand others' perspectives, emotions, and misunderstandings. It helped to calm down the discourse and see people on opposing sides as fellow citizens who wanted the strike to end as much as they did."

"After the panel meeting, I began to realize that I had support here. I felt safe."

"Students feel listened to and cared about and more connected to the school community. It's more personal, you gain deeper understanding of everything that happened."

Theft and Vandalism at School
(Student Restorative Panels)

A student took ice cream from the school cafeteria without paying. When meeting with the Student Restorative Panel, the harmer and student community members learned how his actions rippled out over the whole community. As the harmed party, the Food Service representative described how stealing food affects the community: the food service is guaranteed payment for all items by the school, and if there are extra profits they benefit the school. So, every ice cream taken comes at a direct cost to the school.

After many years, the math department awaited new desks for their classroom. After class one day, the teacher noticed that one of the desk surfaces had been gouged into. Finding the student who had done it, a referral was made to the Student Restorative Panels. At the meeting, all parties heard how upset the teacher was and what it meant to her to finally have new desks, and her disappointment of seeing one defaced. The student who caused the damage explained that he wasn't thinking, and didn't intend to make the teacher so upset. He apologized and offered to repair the desk and help the teacher in her classroom.

Student Understands New Ways (Training)
Student Restorative Panel training was delivered to a nearby high school. Twenty students attended. We reviewed many areas: listening skills, principles of restorative justice, what does interactive dialogue look like, conflict analysis, establishing common ground, understanding impact, accepting responsibility, collective agreement making, and conducting a number of role plays. The students experienced what it would be like be in the shoes of someone who had done some harm and someone who had been harmed, and to say how someone's action had affected your school community. They also experienced what it was like to hear from the person you harmed and understand how your actions affected them. They learned what it was to be given the chance to take responsibility and apologize, and to collectively make an agreement to repair the harm. One student who had lived a rough life and had been in trouble in the past said, "I didn't know you could talk like that!" Clearly, he had made great movement in his life that day.
"The Communication skills training changed my thinking about the way I listen to people and the way someone else might feel. I learned about how to handle conflict in a more positive way and to react and respond differently."