A new pilot program to bring restorative justice to the Charlottesville area is up and running this spring with the help of alumni and faculty from Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.
The process, sponsored by the local commonwealth’s attorneys, will divert criminal cases in Charlottesville and Albemarle County away from traditional proceedings and into a restorative process designed to offer opportunities for participants to reflect upon their decisions and meet with those who have been impacted.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Neal Pollack, a 2011 graduate of CJP, was hired specifically for her expertise in the field. She and colleague Samantha Markley have been key promoters of the program, especially in connecting with CJP and EMU faculty expertise and resources.
Read more about the alumni involved below.
Restorative justice processes have proven to have beneficial outcomes for participants, including those harmed, over proceedings of traditional justice processes, says Tarek Maassarani, visiting professor at CJP and advisor to the project. He has been involved in setting three similar diversion programs in the Washington D.C. metro area and is working with prosecutor’s offices in Arlington and statewide in Nevada.
The program is sponsored in part by a JustPax Fund grant for $8,500, awarded to The Center for Justice and Peacebuilding in October 2021.
CJP’s Zehr Institute for Restorative Justice has also contributed $7,500 to the project to support restorative justice training, facilitator mentoring, and a project coordinator.
The coverage below appeared in the 2021 CJP Impact Report. Click here to learn more about CJP’s work in 2021.