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Volunteer Management in Boards of Probation: Perceptions of Equity, Efficiency, and Reciprocity Among Vermont Volunteers

NCJ Number
Journal of Offender Rehabilitation Volume: 44 Issue: 4 Dated: 2007 Pages: 65-99
J. D. Chesire; David R. Karp
Date Published
35 pages
This study evaluated a Vermont Department of Corrections (VDOC) reparative probation intervention in which volunteers served on local boards to meet with probationers in order to negotiate a reparative contract.
Findings indicated that education, reported religiosity, political conservatism, length of time as a member of a reparative board, and number of cases managed explained significant variation in self-reports of experience, preference, and satisfaction among volunteers to community boards of probations. The volunteer program studied was designed to operate on the principles of restorative justice programs by determining the harm which resulted from the offense, the method needed to repair the harm, and the party responsible for the repair. The program employed community volunteers to meet with offenders to negotiate a restorative justice contract. Offenders were obligated to fulfill terms of the contract such as writing apology letters, paying restitution, or completing community service as the probationary sanction. Variations regarding the importance of equity in the reparative model, showed strong distinctions between how politically conservative volunteers viewed victim participation in the board process, beliefs that the reparative model restored communities, and their commitment to restorative justice principles. Volunteers who placed greater importance on religiosity or spirituality held more positive views of victim participation in reparative boards. Regarding efficiency, it was equally clear that important processes involved in the organizational culture of the correctional system, and within volunteer-offender relationships were manifesting through perceptions that VDOC managed the program effectively. In terms of reciprocity from outcomes of exchanges, volunteers who were more politically conservative were more likely to see retribution as an aspect of reciprocal relationships between communities and offenders, but volunteers who had participated in more cases were less likely to view reciprocity with offenders in a retributive fashion. Volunteers with a higher education viewed the reparative model as generating better outcomes for offenders. The sample of 229 respondents was drawn from Vermont volunteers who completed a 54-question instrument measuring perceived equity, efficiency, and reciprocity in the program. Tables, references