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Restorative Justice in Virginia

NCJ Number
Date Published
27 pages
The 1996 Virginia General Assembly approved Senate Joint Resolution 99, directing the Virginia State Crime Commission to study restorative justice for nonviolent offenders and to submit its findings and recommendations to the governor and the 1997 session of the General Assembly; this is the Commission's report.
The Commission defines "restorative justice" as "the integration of punishment, mediation, and victim-offender reconciliation through a structured system of sanctions and services which emphasize accountability, community protection, and competency development." The Commission found that most of the principles of this conceptual model are currently in place in Virginia. The recent passage of the Comprehensive Community Corrections Act, the Pretrial Services Act, and authorization for Victim-Offender Reconciliation Programs ensures that the elements of restorative justice are intrinsic to the provisions of community-based corrections in Virginia. The role of the victim in the criminal justice system has been elevated through victim rights legislation and a pending constitutional amendment. Victim assistance has been enhanced through expansion of victim-witness programs throughout the State. The Commission recommends that the Supreme Court include training on the use of restitution or day fines in judicial training to ensure that this sanction is used consistently in cases where it is warranted. It also recommends that the Department of Criminal Justice Services conduct a study of the collection of restitution and develop recommendations for a uniform mechanism to be used statewide. Another recommendation is that localities consider broadening the community criminal justice board representation through inclusion of representatives from public health, higher education, business, crime victims, ex-offenders, and other interests that enhance the community perspective. Finally, the Commission recommends that the Department of Criminal Justice Services develop a victim-offender protocol to be a guideline for local crime victim and witness assistance programs. Appended Senate Joint Resolution No. 99