When offenders come face-to-face with those they have impacted, and hear the harm they have caused, many begin to develop empathy for others. This motivates offenders to accept responsibility for their actions and commit to repairing the harm — resulting in better decision-making in the future.
- How It Works
Community Group Conference is a process that brings together victim, offender and community following a crime or wrongdoing. This allows the individuals to identify the harm that was caused and collectively develop a system to repair that harm.
Cases can be referred directly by Estes Park Police Department, Estes Park Municipal Court, District Court and Larimer County Court. Juveniles and adults are considered for status, petty, misdemeanor, and low-level felony offenses. Program participation is voluntarily and offenders may opt out of the process at any time. If an offender chooses to not participate, the case is sent back to the referring agency and appropriate charges are filed.
Estes Valley Restorative Justice Partnership (EVRJP) staff will explain the process and establish eligibility. Offenders are required to accept responsibility for their actions in order to participate. Once eligibility is established, the case is assigned to volunteer facilitators.
Facilitators hold separate pre-conferences with the victim(s) and offender(s) to gather information and prepare participants for the conference. Inconsistencies and attitudes that might cause participants to feel unsafe are addressed. Facilitators determine appropriate community members to invite, and arrange a time for the conference.
4. Community Group Conference:
The conference typically takes two to three hours and includes victim, offender, victim support, offender support, community members and a representative from law enforcement. Participants share their stories to identify harms that have occurred. A contract is then developed that assists the offender in repairing those harms — while also holding him/her accountable. EVRJP staff monitor the offender’s contract by checking in on progress and verifying completion of individual contract items.
Upon successful completion of the contract, a post-conference is scheduled and all of the original participants are invited to attend. The purpose of the post-conference is to discuss successes and challenges, reflect on experiences, and bring closure to the process. Successful completion of the program results in no criminal conviction on the offender’s record. Offenders who fail to complete their contract, or who reoffend while in the program, are sent back to the referring agency and charged appropriately.
- Victims are empowered, given a voice in the process, and provided the opportunity for a more meaningful outcome
- Offenders hear the full effects of their actions, take personal responsibility, and are held accountable for repairing harms
- The community is included in resolving community problems; it sees fewer repeat offenders and ultimately taxpayer money is saved
- Creates new and strengthens existing partnerships between law enforcement, community and individuals.
This program saved me...
"Breaking or running from the law is never the answer. There is no doubt in my mind that this program saved me. I would have just been another teenager in the world with a bad name and a record.”
- Community Group Conference Offender
Why restorative justice?
“I support restorative justice because it requires offenders to take responsibility for their actions, listen to the victims, and take active and concrete steps to make amends to the victim and community.”
- Captain Corey Pass, Estes Park Police Department