Community Justice Services

Restorative Justice Panels

Restorative Justice Panels are an alternative for individuals charged with a crime (the responsible party). They are made up of teams of 3-5 trained volunteers who meet with responsible and impacted parties, to address the harm caused by “low-level” crimes (such as disorderly conduct, forgery, fraud, retail theft, and unlawful mischief). The panel's mission is to hold the responsible party accountable for the effects of their actions on others. Restorative Justice Panels are provided to Winooski residents by the City of Burlington. 

Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA)

The Winooski Police Department has partnered with the Essex Community Justice Center to ensure that CoSA volunteers continue to provide this essential service. CoSA volunteers are often the key to creating meaningful connections and achieving successful reentry for those returning to our communities. 

  • What is a Circle of Support and Accountability? 

The core of the CoSA Program is the mantra “No More Victims”. The Circle of Support and Accountability (COSA) is an evidence-based model of engaging with someone who is coming out of incarceration, who wants to make changes and be a law-abiding citizen, and who is at risk to re-offend because of a number of issues, including a lack of support from friends, family, and their community. A COSA is a team of 3-4 trained community volunteers and a Reentry Coordinator, who works at the Community Justice Center. To learn more about this model, visit the VT Dept. of Human Service’s CoSA page.

  • How CoSA works during COVID-19

In adherence to the social distancing policies set out by the CDC and the Vermont Department of Health, volunteers will attend our training session and provide services to clients remotely via a video teleconferencing platform such as Zoom. Staff provides all training and support for CoSA Volunteers. There is no expectation for in-person contact during this time. The CoSA team hosts a virtual/remote weekly meeting with clients, or “core-members”, where volunteers:

  • develop pro-social relationships
  • promote internal accountability
  • provide support, coaching, & mentoring
  • serve as a role model of behavior and positive activity
  • converse about daily struggles
  • anticipate challenges 
  • have fun!

After building trust over time, volunteers may choose to engage in one on one mentoring and/or social activities with a core-member.