Neighborhood Courts Santa Cruz County: Community-driven restorative justice, an alternative to criminal court

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Hello everyone, my name is Emily Rangel and I am an intern at Nonprofit Connection Santa Cruz County. As part of my undergraduate field placement program for Collaborative Human and Health Services (CHHS) and California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB).

 

 

This week we are highlighting the great work of the program Neighborhood Courts, a partnership between NPC Member, the Conflict Resolution Center, the District Attorneys’ office of Santa Cruz County and Probation.  Neighborhood Courts is a community response to harm that is focused on community safety, restoring relationships, addressing underlying causes of crime and directly addressing the needs of those who have been harmed. This is a non-punitive process that focuses on encouraging accountability and on repairing the harm. Participation is voluntary and confidential but requires the participant to take responsibility for their actions and harm caused. This program allows victims to participate voluntarily;  when a victim is present, it allows the offender to take reasonability for their actions to eventually help heal the harm caused by their actions. Learn more about the program HERE and learn about how to volunteer HERE.

During the conference, the following occurs:

  • Harms caused to victim (if applicable) and community
  • Root of why the crime happened
  • Panelists and participant work together to select agreements  that are specific, reasonable, attainable, and restorative to the participant, victim, and community.
  • Once the participant successfully completes the agreements, the case will be dismissed. The participant is given a second chance because the conviction will not be on their record. If needed, the participants may be referred to additional services offered in the community. If a case is not resolved in Neighborhood Courts, it will be re-routed back to the District Attorney’s Office.

 

 

Neighborhood Courts is seeking new volunteers to participate in conferences., You can learn more and become involved by clicking HERE. As a volunteer, you’d get the chance to serve the community helping those who have caused harm to take responsibility for their actions and repair the harm in a restorative way. Requirements to become a volunteer are: 

  • Complete the application (see below)
  • Pass a background check (Immigrant status will not be checked)
  • Participate as an observer in two Neighborhood Court Conferences
  • Participate as a panelist in Neighborhood Court conferences once every 2 months (Currently held on Thursday evening)
  • Participate in at least 4 – 8 additional trainings a year
  • Two-year time commitment (1 year if student)
  • Attend 12+ hours of Panelist Training (TBD)
  • Attend monthly volunteer meeting (Currently held on the last Tuesday of the month from 6-7pm)

 

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Nonprofit Connection Santa Cruz County is a 501(c)3 corporation, Federal Tax ID# 87-2130376