The Community Justice Unit works to further criminal justice reform. The Unit is led by Erin Jacobsen and Willa Farrell. It seeks to improve equity, public safety, and fairness in all aspects of the civil, criminal and youth justice systems.
Among other responsibilities the Unit administers Court Diversion and Pretrial Services statewide. These programs increase public safety by addressing the underlying causes of crime, including connecting individuals to mental health, substance use, and other services participants need. Restorative justice principles underpin Court Diversion and help to ensure that victims are heard and their needs met.
The division supports the Mental Health Crisis Response Commission, created by Act 45 of 2017, as it works to investigate problematic law enforcement encounters with individuals suffering from mental health crises and provide system-wide recommendations for how to improve mental health services and prevent tragic encounters.
The division is also heavily involved in leading and supporting Racial Justice Initiatives. These include redrafting a model Fair and Impartial Policing Policy with the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council, and convening and providing support for the Vermont Criminal and Juvenile Justice System Advisory Panel.