Norwich students take part in ‘Restorative Justice’ exercise

On Oct. 16, the Criminal Justice Honors Society along with several other Norwich students participated in Barre’s Restorative Justice Simulation at the Barre Justice Center.

This event allowed 43 Barre citizens and 10 Norwich students to play roles as prisoners who were recently released from prison. Each person received a folder with a name and important information regarding their current status of parole, employment, family, etc. Some people had stricter rules than others, such as students Victor Abrams and Jeff Dziardziel, who were required to wear an “ankle monitor” and check in with their parole officer every week.
The simulation was designed using a 15 minute timer that represented one week. Each person had a list of requirements and necessities they needed to complete in that 15 minutes. There were multiple tables set up around the room representing the DMV, Job Employment Center, police station, banks, churches, etc. However, to add a few more variables each person needed a travel voucher to visit each of the tables –representing how difficult it can be for a recently released prisoner to receive or find transportation. More so, for those personnel who were struggling to get their life back together, they were targeted by “Illegal Activities,” represented by a woman with a bag of possibilities that could win a person easy money, or send them right back to prison. This simulation was designed for the prisoners to fail and eventually turn back to crime to reflect the reality of our current corrections system after prison.
This simulation was a great opportunity for CJ students to get a hands-on experience with the complications of the corrections system and see how difficult it is for prisoners to re-emerge back into society legally with the rules and restrictions they are required to meet and follow. The simulation also promoted “Circles of Support” and accountability teams known as COSA, which are groups of community members who adopt a recently released prisoner to help them get back on track with their life and have someone to turn to and talk too, receive transportation, or help in general.
Vermont is a forerunner in promoting Restorative Justice, the wave of the future as time passes.

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