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Community Justice Unit

The Community Justice Unit works to further criminal justice reform and. 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. Twelve community-based restorative justice providers offer these programs in all of Vermont’s counties. 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 unit supports the Mental Health Crisis Response Commission, created by Act 45, 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 Community Justice Unit is also 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.

Vermont statute (Act 11 of 2023) permits the referral of cases involving domestic and sexual violence to community justice centers (CJCs) under certain parameters. The law assigns the CJU with providing support to community justice centers, developing guidance, and issuing a report.