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) Volunteers

We're looking for CoSa volunteers! The Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA) program is designed for individuals who are currently or recently incarcerated who are often marginalized and have few, if any, natural social supports. The City of Winooski has partnered with the Essex Community Justice Center to ensure that CoSA volunteers continue to provide this essential service and help keep our community safe. 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 in 2021

In adherence to the social distancing policies set out by the CDC and the Vermont Department of Health, the CoSA program has returned to in-person meetings (outdoors with no masks unless a person chooses to wear one, or is not vaccinated yet).  Staff provides all training and support for CoSA Volunteers. The CoSA team meets weekly 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.

Interested? Click here to apply today!

Want to learn more? Questions regarding this program can be sent to: