Imagine being a new business owner whose family has worked hard for several years only to see their belongings destroyed by vandals.
After working hard, the family purchased a motor home to enjoy memorable family outings. One day, the family came home to be greeted by a heartbreaking scene. The overhead storage garage door, where the motor home was parked, was forced open. The motor home’s interior and exterior were severely damaged. Vandals threw the contents around and burned the family’s belongings in a fire pit in the garage.
The Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office investigated this crime and several youths, ages of 15 through 16, were charged with burglary. The case was referred to Lakes Area Restorative Justice Project, a community-based program, staffed by volunteers who facilitate a conference involving victims, offenders, parents and other community members in attempts to right a wrong. Through this face-to-face process, the offenders describe their involvement in the crime, and the victims provide a powerful voice to the process, Restorative Justice reported.
After several weeks of face-to-face meetings with the victims, the offenders and the offenders’ parents, a resolution conference was hosted involving about 25 participants. The victims and community members expressed their outrage and feelings of violation at the act of vandalism. Each offender told his side of the story and took responsibility for his part of the harm. The parties were able to reach a consensus as to resolution: $2,000 restitution, 125 hours of community service and victim service in the form of a brush-clearing project that one of the offender’s parents offered to supervise.
LARJP reported the youths fulfilled the terms of their contract. When contacted about the quality of the victim service work, the victim stated that it was outstanding, LARJP reported. Although the family could never have been made completely whole, the case had a positive outcome, LARJP stated.
For more information on how LARJP serves the communities in Crow Wing County, go online to www.LARJP.org.