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The mission of the Center for Community Justice is to promote and operate effective community-based services for victims, offenders, and the community. These services strengthen community safety, provide support and compensation for victims, aid restoration of offenders and promote reconciliation among victims, offenders, and the community.
The Center for Community Justice (CCJ), since it's inception in 1984, has followed a nontraditional philosophy of restorative justice. Through its programs, the Center holds offenders accountable and gives them the opportunity to be actively involved in restoring victims, their community, and themselves. We give offenders the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions, involve them in repairing the harm they caused, and assist in restoring fractured lives. The realization of this goal creates a safer and more just community.
* COMMUNITY MEDIATION PROGRAM
The Community Mediation Program (CMP) assists disputing parties by facilitating a face-to-face mediation through which an agreement can be reached.
Mediation is a process that empowers both parties to identify their own needs and to collaboratively seek a solution. Trained mediators are able to assist parties in separating and clarifying the issues at the root of a conflict, opening the door to new possibilities. Though at times necessary, more adversarial approaches to dispute resolution usually relinquish power to a third party arbitrator or judge. In contrast, mediation is built on the principle that keeping power in the hands of the people who have the greatest stake in a situation will lead to the most satisfactory solutions.
CMP provides on-the-spot mediation for disputants in Small Claims Court, and is also available for referrals from the community, provided that both parties are willing participants.
*COMMUNITY SERVICE RESTITUTION PROGRAM
Since 1979, the Community Service Restitution Program (CSRP) has provided an avenue for offenders to complete over 280,000 hours of court-ordered labor for nonprofit and governmental organizations. CSRP provides a structured, meaningful way to reintegrate offenders into the community, and helps them "pay back" the community for the harm they have done. CSRP provides Elkhart County judges an alternative sentencing option for non-violent offenders, through which they are held accountable to take pro-active steps toward making things right with their community. In addition to facilitating the performance of valuable work in our community, CSRP helps keep down our county correctional costs by providing a mechanism of accountability short of incarceration.
* GUIDED FAMILY INTERVENTION PROJECT
The purpose of the Guided Family Intervention Project (GFIP) is to address family conflicts with reconciliation rather than judicial intervention. Using brief therapy and solution-focused techniques from a strengths based perspective, the program examines underlying family issues at the root of juvenile status offenses. Resolving these issues frequently diverts clients from further involvement in the criminal justice system. Once a family has been referred by the prosecutor's office or juvenile probation department, a Master's level therapist will work with them to develop effective strategies to address their youth's criminal inclinations.
*VICTIM IMPACT PANEL (VIP) English & Spanish
Since 1993, VIP volunteers, consisting of victims, family members or offenders who have caused driving accidents while under the influence, speak of the consequences of impaired driving to people who have been charged with driving while under the influence offenses. The purpose of this program is to change participant's thinking about driving while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs and make our community roads safer.
Adolescent Victim Impact Panel (AVIP)
Since 1999, AVIP has provided an opportunity for volunteers to present their stories to youth who have committed and alcohol or drug-related offense. The panel brings substance abuse and safety to the forefront, encouraging parents and teens to discuss these difficult issues. AVIP will also present panels to schools, driver education classes and other organizations if requested.
*VICTIM OFFENDER RECONCILIATION PROGRAM
The Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP) works with victims and offenders to identify who was affected by the crime, what harm was caused, and what steps the offender can take to begin to make things right.
VORP operates out of a philosophy of restorative justice, which views crime as harm done to people and communities, and seeks to identify and address that harm. Doing so requires that offenders recognize how their actions have harmed the victim, their community, and their own lives. VORP holds offenders accountable for the harm they have caused, and works with them in taking steps to address that harm.
VORP is a victim-driven program; the VORP process is fundamentally shaped by the victim's wishes. VORP caseworkers assist victims in identifying how the offense has affected them and what would be meaningful by way of reparation.