Restorative Justice Program
Restorative Justice is a theory for how to deal with violations of law, policies and norms. Compared to Retributive Justice, the following questions are the focus:
|Retributive Justice||Restorative Justice|
| What laws were broken?
Who did it?
How will he/she be punished?
| Who has been harmed?
What does he/she need?
Whose obligations are these?
What is the CU Restorative Justice Program (CURJ)?
CURJ serves as an alternative to the traditional disciplinary systems in the City of Boulder and at the University of Colorado. It provides a forum for student offenders, victims, and affected community members to come together to identify the harms that were caused by a student’s actions and determine the best method for repairing those harms. CURJ runs three different models of restorative justice conferences: the Community Accountability Board Conference, the Victim Offender Conference, and the Mutual Responsibility Conference. The type of model that is used for a student’s case depends on the type of offense and the circumstances surrounding the offense.
The Community Accountability Board (CAB) is typically used for quality of life violations, including Nuisance Party, Unreasonable Noise, Fraudulent Identification, Minor in Possession, and others. The goals of the CAB is to repair harm to the individuals and the community, educate students on living in the community, and allow students to accept responsibility in a safe and constructive environment. The CAB is run by the Community Accountability Board, which is made up of a panel of community members and trained restorative justice facilitators, many of which are also students. CABs are held at 6:30 and 7:30 each Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evening. During this 60-minute conference, the facilitator guides a discussion between the student and the community members with the goal of identifying who was harmed by the offense, how they were harmed, and how the student can repair the harm. Together they create a Reparative Agreement that might include items such as apology letters, research papers, interviews of community members, substance abuse awareness experiences, and community service. The content of the Reparative Agreement is created on a case by case basis, and students are encouraged to have input into their own agreements.
The Victim-Offender Conference (VOC) used when there is an identifiable victim or harmed party associated with the offense. This model is most commonly used by CURJ for Vandalism and Third Degree Assault. The VOC focuses closely on the harm that occurred between the offender and the victim. VOCs are conducted by two highly trained restorative justice facilitators. Both the offender and victim are encouraged to bring support persons and family members to the conference. General community members are also selected to discuss the impact of the violation on the community. The VOC requires extended pre-conference preparation and the conference itself normally lasts two hours. The end result is similar to the CAB in that a Reparative Agreement is formed.
The Mutual Responsibility Conference is a variation of the VOC. This model is used when the line between offender and victim is blurred, or when there are multiple offenders and victims. It is most commonly used by CURJ for Brawling violations. The end result is a Reparative Agreement for each person who committed a violation.
How does a student get started in the CU Restorative Justice Program (CURJ) program?
A student must be referred to the program from a disciplinary agency, including law enforcement, the court system, and on campus agencies, such as Residence Life or the Office of Student Conduct. Once referred, the student will attend an intake session where a CURJ staff member will determine whether the case and student are good candidates for the program. A fundamental condition for participating in the program is an initial acceptance of responsibility for the violation. This is not the same as admitting guilt. Rather CURJ looks for whether the student is willing to explore how actions his/her actions have impacted others and the community and make repair for those impacts.
How does a student complete the CURJ program?
The result of each student's conference will be a Reparative Agreement. The student must complete the items in the agreement by the assigned due date, which is typically within four weeks of the conference date. The CURJ Program Coordinator monitors the student's progress in completing the agreement. Once complete, the student receives an official CURJ Completion Letter. It is the student's responsibility to take this letter to the referring agency to prove that they have completed the program.
What are the circumstances under which a student's case may be returned?
The circumstances under which a student's case will be returned to the referring agency include:
- Failure to accept responsibility for the harms caused the student's actions at any time during the student's participation in the program.
- Failure to show for a scheduled meeting or conference with CURJ.
- Inappropriate behavior during community service, when interacting with a community member as part of the Reparative Agreement, or when interacting with CURJ volunteers or staff.
- Failure to complete all Reparative Agreement items by the due date.
- Commission of a subsequent violation prior to completion of the program.
What is the fee for CURJ?
For cases referred from an off-campus agency, a $135 fee will be charged to the student's university account upon completion of the student's restorative justice conference, or when the student fails to appear for a scheduled conference. For cases referred from an on-campus agency, there is no fee.
Our team of volunteers consists of neighbors, landlords, business owners, police officers, CU staff/faculty members, CU students, CU alumni, CU parents, and others.
What is a facilitator?
Restorative justice facilitators assist parties in discussing a violation and the best way to resolve it. Facilitators advocate for the needs of all parties, but do not "take sides" or make decisions. Instead, facilitators control the process and ensure that all parties are able to give input and discuss the topics in a constructive manner. This is accomplished through the use of conflict resolution and communication skills. CURJ provides the training for individuals to become facilitators.
How to apply to become a facilitator:
Applications are accepted each spring for the following academic year. Once you have submitted your application, you will be notified if you are selected for an interview. After the interview process, our new team of facilitators is selected and training takes place during the following late summer/early fall. To apply: email Abby Whipple at firstname.lastname@example.org for the current application form and due date.
Prior to training, new facilitators are expected to participate as a Community Rep (see below) in 2-3 conferences. Facilitation training is two full days, and is planned according to the availability of the new team members. Training includes instruction on conflict resolution and communication skills, role playing, and other hands on exercises. Once you are part of the CURJ team, there are opportunities for advanced training as well.
Facilitator time commitment:
CURJ facilitators are expected to commit to two evening sessions per month for the period of one year. These sessions take place each Monday – Thursday at 6-9PM. In addition, facilitators are expected to attend one team meeting per month for debriefing and continuing skill development exercises.
What is a community representative?
Community representatives play an essential role in restorative justice conferences. Their perspective and input can help an offender understand how his/her actions affect individuals and the community in general. During a restorative justice conference, community representatives provide input on the following types of questions when asked by the facilitator: How do you feel about what happened? Who do you feel might have been impacted and how? What was the community impacted? What can the student do to repair the harm to individuals and the community? Community reps are not expected to be experts on these subjects, but to provide their own unique perspective. The philosophy behind this position is that we are all a part of the community and, thus, our input is necessary regarding the outcome of violations. Also, community reps act as a type of surrogate by brainstorming how individuals may have been impacted, such as other students, neighbors, landlords, parents, etc. By interacting with student-offenders and offering these perspectives, community reps can help students build a stronger relationship with their community.
How to apply to become a community representative:
Any member of the community may submit an application at anytime throughout the year. The primary requirement for participation is that you understand and are willing to abide by restorative justice principles during the conferences. If selected, the Coordinator will contact you to set up an orientation session, which lasts 1.5 hours and will be at a time that is convenient for you.
Community representative time commitment:
As a community rep, you are expected to volunteer 1-2 evenings per month. These sessions take place each Monday – Thursday at 6:15-9PM. You will schedule yourself for evenings that work for you through the Coordinator on a month-by-month basis.
Want to Get Involved
Please email or call Abby Whipple at email@example.com or 303-735-0362 if you are interested.
Watch our Restorative Justice video. In it, you'll find a simulated offense and resulting RJ Circle, as well as discussion of the principles of Restorative Justice. The cost of each video is $50. If you'd like to order one, click here for order form. The order form is in Adobe Acrobat format. Click here to download the free Adobe Acrobat reader.
You can also learn more by contacting:
Interim Restorative Justice Program Coordinator
University of Colorado at Boulder
Regent Admin Center, Room 1B72
Boulder, CO 80309-0010