Article Detail

Community Justice Volunteer Mobilization Project: Final Project Report
John Howard Society of Moncton

Posted 2000-09-15

A project of the John Howard Society
Moncton, New Brunswick
Funded by the Department of Justice Canada
National Crime Prevention Centre:
Community Mobilization Program

Contents
1.0 Executive Summary
2.0 Introduction
3.0 Project Background
4.0 The Project - what we did, and how we did it
5.0 Evaluation Design
6.0 Evaluation Findings, Learnings and Outcomes: Volunteer Mobilization
7.0 Evaluation Findings, Learnings and Outcomes: Partnership Development
8.0 Evaluation Findings, Learnings, and Outcomes: Community Awareness
9.0 Final Conclusions and Recommendations

1.0 Executive Summary

In October 1999 the John Howard Society of Moncton initiated a project designed to address crime prevention through the development of Restorative Justice practices in the Greater Moncton area. With initial funding from the Community Mobilization Program of the Solicitor General Canada this project also gained support from several other partners and established hands-on partnership committees to guide the development and implementation of this project. The directions for this project were:

1) the recruitment, and training of volunteers to participate in restorative justice initiatives;

2) the development of committed partners and a working partnership structure that facilitates continued development of crime prevention initiatives, community involvement and restorative justice practices; and

3) specific efforts designed to increase community awareness and support for restorative justice.

During the eight months that this project unfolded there were several key activities that addressed these objectives. The recruitment and training program for volunteers encompassed an average of sixty-plus hours per volunteer. This one aspect involved a total of 1100 volunteered hours and resulted in new trained volunteers, increased skills in existing volunteers, and increased information and skills for the staff from partnering agencies. As an outcome of the training several new initiatives in restorative justice have been supported and implemented. Further, the coordination of the Adult Alternative Measures Program and direction for Community Justice Forums have been clearly established. Those persons, who participated in the training, acknowledged that the information/education and exposure to restorative justice has had an impact on their ability to work in the community and their personal response to crime in their community.

A second activity area of increased community awareness throughout the project was the work of university students, public speaking presentations, and media coverage. At least twenty-two presentations were made. There has been a significant flow of information about restorative justice in the Greater Moncton Area as a result of this project which has had a positive impact on both the John Howard Society and the partners within this project. The evidence of this increased information has been in the ongoing call for more presentations, and the requests for the John Howard Society to participate in other community initiatives that support and extend this work.

All activities associated with this project were enacted directly with the support of partners. In the end these partnerships resulted in increasing the collective knowledge and support for restorative justice in this community. This project was able to achieve its objectives through the work of the community partnerships developed. Further, the work of this project has built a supportive framework for Phase II of this initiative.

2.0 Introduction

This report is submitted as a compilation final project summary report and evaluation report for the Community Justice Volunteer Mobilization Project.

The report is prepared by project staff and the evaluation consultant with input from the members of the Management and Inter-Agency Committees, and other key partners involved with this process.

This project activities blended into one another, overlapped, and initiated each other. This report has organized the reporting of the major work of the project in chapter 4.0 under the headings of ‘Volunteer Mobilization’ ‘Partnership Development’ and ‘ Community Awareness’ to correspond to the project’s objectives. The evaluation and learnings from each of those components is compiled in separate sections. The report concludes with recommendations for modifications within a project of this nature, as well as recommendations for further work.

The John Howard Society would like to formally recognize the contribution of the following partners for contributing time and resources in making this first phase of community mobilization a success.

Department of Justice Canada-Community Mobilization Program

New Brunswick Department of Public Safety - Moncton Regional Office

Ministry of the Solicitor General Secretariat Canada

Corrections Services Canada

Codiac RCMP

City of Moncton Public Safety Committee

3.0 Project Background

3.1 Development of the Moncton project

In 1998 the Solicitor General of New Brunswick made a public announcement that the province will be taking a new direction towards developing a more restorative based justice system. At that time in New Brunswick there was already active work with the Aboriginal community in Circle Sentencing and in selected Victim-Offender Mediations. Moncton specifically had developed a Public Safety Committee, the Forum on Healing Justice and the "Say NO to Violence" Safer Communities Initiative. At the time of this project onset there was a growing number of initiatives within the CSC sector, the RCMP, schools, and youth organizations that had a community/restorative justice focus in the Greater Moncton area. Issues arising in the community as a result of those initiatives were identified as:

  • A shortage of skilled volunteers available to work in the variety of initiatives
  • A lack of support and on-going training for existing volunteers
  • General lack of community awareness about the principles of restorative justice, its benefits to the community, and its links to crime prevention
  • Lack of coordination and partnering among the different sectors involved in separate community justice efforts.

It is important to note that despite that 1998 announcement there was minimal development of new restorative justice initiatives in New Brunswick at the time of this project’s onset. Although the RCMP nationally developed a training program for Community Justice Forums it was not yet scheduled to be delivered in New Brunswick.

With its history of working with the community of offenders, victims, and the justice system, the John Howard Society was well situated to develop and deliver a project that pulled together responsive action to the identified issues. The organization was recognized for working with volunteers and for being able to adapt programs to meet both the Correctional Services Canada’s requirements and the needs of individuals and community groups.

3.2 General Expectations of the project

The overarching expectations of the project were to bridge the gap between service needs in restorative justice and the availability of skilled volunteers, while at the same time increasing the community support for restorative justice practices in the varying sectors. There was the expectation that successful volunteer mobilization would increase both organizational and community understanding of the issues and opportunities for other crime prevention initiatives. Further, there was the expectation that increased understanding would lead to increased commitment on the part of different sectors to use and support volunteers within their own programs.

As part of this project’s development, local consultations were held with the managers and staff within CSC, the Codiac RCMP, Public Safety Committee, and a representative of the National Parole Board. At the time of project initiation the following restorative justice opportunities existed in the Greater Moncton area:

  • Adult Alternative Measures coordinated by the Department of Public Safety
  • Limited victim-offender mediations initiated by CSC and conducted by community volunteers educated in mediation
  • RCMP Community and Problem oriented policing initiatives

Although there was interest and support for initiating Circles of Support within CSC, and Community Justice Forums by the RCMP there was very limited access to skilled facilitators and knowledge how to implement these processes.

4.0 The Project (What we did and how we did it)

The Community Justice Volunteer Mobilization Project was a one year initiative designed within a partnership model to address crime prevention by moving forward restorative justice practices in the Greater Moncton Area.

The project had three components which correspond to the objectives stated below. Those components were:

1) the recruitment, and training of volunteers to to participate in restorative justice initiatives;

2) the development of committed partners and a working partnership structure that facilitates continued development of crime prevention initiatives, community involvement and restorative justice practices; and

3) specific efforts designed to increase community awareness and support for restorative justice.

The project was managed by the John Howard Society through a project coordinator.


4.1 Goals and objectives

The project goal was stated as:

"To improve our community’s capacity to actively support and sustain crime prevention initiatives through a community justice focus."

It was recognized by both the John Howard Society and the community partners that there needed to be changes in the community’s and system’s responses to offenses, offenders and victims to reduce further criminal behaviour. The experience and research of professionals in this community supported the development of restorative justice initiatives as one means to address crime prevention.

The overall indicators of success for this goal were defined by the Management and the Inter-Agency Committees as:

    _ increased use of restorative justice practices;

    _ successful integration of restorative justice principles in existing practices;

    _ increased support for victims and response to their needs;

    _ decrease in offender recidivism;

    _ increased community support for crime prevention overall;

    _ integration of values and skills into the volunteers own sphere of influence.

    Specific objectives were developed to have specific and measurable outcomes.


1) To increase the number of skilled volunteers (in restorative justice and community crime prevention initiatives) in the Greater Moncton area.

It was the intent of the project to train at least 10 volunteers which would be ‘placed’ within the partnering organizations volunteer structure. In total this project provided training for 16 new volunteers, 19 existing volunteers, and 43 staff in the specific practices of restorative justice. The content and process of the training program is described under ‘Project Activities.’

The success indicators identified for this objective were:

_ increased use of volunteers within current programs;

_ availability of skilled volunteers for new initiatives, particularly for youth;

_ increased capacity and support for existing volunteers;

_ acceptance by staff of the volunteers’ capacity and role;

_ volunteers demonstrate that their training provided appropriate skills and knowledge.

2) To create a community-based process for active and ongoing communications between partners.

The project plan included several means of involving partners: as participants and leaders within the training sessions, as advisors and implementors through the Inter-Agency and Management Committees, and as participants in public presentations. During the course of this project over fourteen agencies, government departments, or voluntary organizations participated.

The success indicators identified for this objective were as follows.

_All volunteers are provided appropriate supervision and opportunities to practice their skills within the participating sectors;

_ That new partners are identified and able to find a role for their organization within restorative justice initiatives;

_ That the partners develop an ongoing commitment and a mechanism for maintaining, monitoring and evaluating restorative justice initiatives in the Moncton area;

    _ That partners experience benefits to their own organization by participating in the project.

3) To increase community awareness of the community justice initiatives in the Greater Moncton area.

It was the intention of the project to have a communication committee which would oversee much of the work involved in public awareness. In the course of this project over 18 public speaking presentations were made, six articles appeared in local media and two universities became involved in this aspect of the project.

The success indicators for this component were identified as:

_ Increased media avenues for communication and awareness about all justice issues are developed and utilized;

_ The community demonstrates a positive response to restorative justice practices within the Greater Moncton area;

_ Increased demonstration of knowledge about restorative justice.

4.2 Principles, Beliefs and philosophies

Although not established as a formal document ‘The Principles of Community Mobilization in Restorative Justice.’ it became obvious during the course of this project that several principles, beliefs and philosophies were being developed and enacted in ways that influenced the project sponsor, the partners, and participating staff and volunteers. These principles and philosophies are recorded to provide a framework in which all the activities of the project and the management of the project were enacted.

That successful restorative justice practices would have an impact on crime prevention.

That increased community support for Restorative Justice practices will increase the opportunities for using these.

That the practices within Restorative Justice initiatives require skills and knowledge to ensure safe and effective outcomes for both the victims and the offenders.

That volunteers require support and supervision to ensure safe and effective work within all restorative justice initiatives.

That meaningful partnership development requires time and information for organizations to determine their own investment prior to committing to collective action.

That the work in developing restorative justice is not just about programming, staffing and volunteer development. Rather it is about changing values and recognizing different relationships of the offender and victim in the community.


4.3 Profile of Participants

Participants in this project are defined primarily as all of the community members who participated in the course of this project. The following is a breakdown of project participants which totalled 120.

    Partnering Agency Staff - 43

    Students - 27

    Interested Community -15

    Existing Volunteers -19

    Project New Volunteers -16

At the project orientation night eighteen potential volunteers were asked to self describe their skills and experience with restorative justice. At that time 20% indicated that they had little or no knowledge, 48% indicated that they had some prior information or knowledge, and 32% indicated that they had knowledge and experience with restorative justice.

An initial focus group discussion revealed two themes of concerns facing the potential new volunteers.

1) concerns about the amount of time, and commitment required to complete training

2) concerned that there would be adequate supervision for them while working

Additional comments revealed that the potential volunteers described this training program as the opportunity to work in a positive community initiative key to their interest. Further they considered the opportunity to work within a team of other volunteers and staff an asset to to their anticipated experience.


4.4 Building Community Capacity - Description of Volunteer Mobilization and Training

The organization of training program:

The training program was developed in consultation with several community partners who are involved with supervising volunteers in specific initiatives. Further consultation was held with persons who act as advocates for victims in the community or have worked in restorative justice practices already. The training program was divided into several segments over a six month period, primarily in evening sessions, although some specialized (optional) training took place over a number of days. The training program was organized with a minimal required training of 32 hours including the 10 required hours of CSC orientation. Training sessions were offered by staff of partnering agencies from the field pertaining to the specific subject manner. All training sessions were evaluated at the closure of the session for four specific issues: 1) quality of presentation and information 2) relevance of information and specific learnings 3) changes that volunteers recommended and 4) concerns that were raised or further information that was required on this subject.

It was the intention of the training program format that volunteers would develop a sense of interest and their own abilities and begin to identify which type of restorative justice initiatives they would want to work in. They would then have the opportunity to participate in specific and specialized training required for that area. These specialized training sessions were offered in the day time which limited some participation. These specialized sessions were:

    Community Justice Forums - 3 days

    Circles of Support - 1 day

    Alternative Measures - 2 two-hour sessions

    Conflict Resolution and Basic Mediation ( Part 1) - 2 days

    Victim/Offender Mediation (Part 2) - 3 days

It is important to note that during the course of the training both the Management and the Inter-Agency Committees were frequently consulted for resources, policy development, and input into the design of the training program.

During the course of the training program it became apparent that the learning of the volunteers, staff, and partners converged repeatedly. One of the most positive developments was the participation of RCMP staff in several of the training sessions. Community volunteers, new and seasoned developed a new understanding of the persons behind the RCMP uniform, their role in community justice, and their concerns. Conversely, the opportunity for staff of agencies to develop relationships with volunteers over a period of time allowed for greater appreciation for the need for support and continued supervision of volunteers within their agencies.

The process of selecting new volunteers

Discussions were held with both committees to determine the overall criteria for volunteers. Volunteers were recruited through a variety of methods: newspaper advertisements, referrals from partnering agencies, referrals from the Moncton Volunteer Bureau, and in response to newspaper articles. A project orientation night was widely advertised to provide an overview of the project and outline the training expectations. This orientation was attended by 18 participants, nine of whom became part of the total 16 new volunteers who continued with the training from that night.

Applications were completed by each volunteer, interviews conducted and references checked. Members of the Inter-Agency Committee were asked to participate in interviews but elected to review the list of approved names instead. No volunteer listed was rejected by that committee. However, it was apparent from the orientation focus group discussions and interviews, that there were potential volunteers who might be inappropriate for this type of work. Alternate volunteer work was encouraged and these persons were successfully rerouted.

Although volunteers were asked to identify initially their areas of interest, it was understood that they could change this during the course of the training. At the closure of the project the volunteer selection process resulted in the following breakdown: (volunteers could choose more than one)

    9 volunteers - Alternative Measures Committee

    4 volunteers - Circles of Support

    9 volunteers - Community Justice Forums

    7 volunteers - Victim/Offender Mediation

    2 students - prepared to assume mediation roles with their school

Changes to the training program

To accommodate the number of partners involved in offering training sessions, flexibility in the schedule was required. There were some time changes in sessions, however, for the most part all training sessions were conducted on Tuesday nights as originally planned. Printed training schedules were updated and provided to volunteers.

One decision made by both the Management and Inter-Agency Committee was that the quality of the training was more important than the certification by a specific training body. As a result, some trainers were put aside in favor of others. Schedule adjustments resulted in the second part of Victim/Offender mediation training being scheduled in September, three months following the close of all other training. This had limited impact as the only persons eligible for this training were those who had already taken Basic Mediation. After over eighty hours in training spread over five months, this group of volunteers were ready for a hiatus in training before tackling this higher degree of specialization.

Policy development to support volunteer utilization

During the course of the training there was the need to develop policies that would ensure appropriate volunteer supervision. Policy development work on Oaths of Confidentiality and volunteer insurance was initiated in the Inter- Agency Committee and completed by individual agencies as required.

This area of work will continue to need development as more volunteers are used.

Supervision and support of volunteers

Ongoing support and appropriate supervision was the primary concern raised by volunteers as they realized that the initiatives in the community were not directed by the John Howard Society and that they would not be John Howard Society volunteers per se. This issue was also frequently discussed within both the Management and Inter-Agency Committee meetings. It was determined that each agency using volunteers would assume responsibility for providing supervision. However, as a result of this project, the John Howard Society was asked to assume the role of coordinating the work involving Adult Alternative Measures and will continue to assist the RCMP in placing volunteers for Community Justice Forums. Those volunteers who complete the Victim/Offender Mediation training will be made known to the community. CSC and the John Howard Society will assume the responsibility for facilitating their services, and providing supervision and support.

It was determined that there are issues that will continue to need addressing as the volunteers are implemented into restorative justice initiatives in the Greater Moncton area.

a) Access to the professional and volunteer team for support, debriefing, and consultation on a regular basis. It cannot be assumed that even a seasoned volunteer can work in isolation, particularly on issues that have a high degree of emotion involved. The formalized establishment of this has not been done at this date

b) Access to continued training and upgrading. This will need to be developed in a coordinated fashion. Concerns were raised by some community partners about the limits within their own agency to provide this, and the duplication that might occur in this region if each agency does this individually. This issue will continue to be resolved in Phase II of this project.

c) Ongoing supervision and appropriate selection of volunteers for specific initiatives. This involves that each agency manager, or supervisor becoming more familiar with the personal interests and capabilities of the volunteers who will be working with them. Final interviews were conducted by the Project Coordinator and final selections of areas of work have been made. This information will be provided to the agencies involved.


4.5 Partnership Development

The structure and function of the Management Committee

The structure and relationships of the Management Committee were in place prior to the official funding of this project. This team was responsible for assisting in resourcing the project and in ensuring that there would be cooperation at the operational level within their own agencies. This team originally consisted of the following members:

    Codiac RCMP Regional Superintendent

    Moncton Manager of the Department of Public Safety

    Regional Chaplain for CSC

    Coordinator of the Moncton Public Safety Committee

This team agreed to meet quarterly or on an as needed basis. During the course of this project the team met five times.

The level of interest and commitment to the goals of this project was in place prior to the project and shared mutually by all members of the Management Committee. The John Howard Society was seen as the most appropriate partner to carry out this project but the ownership of the outcomes of the project were identified and shared mutually. The partners demonstrated their support in attending meetings, providing resources in personnel and funds to support volunteer training.

The structure and function of the Inter-Agency Committee

The Inter-Agency Committee was primarily operational in its structure and function. Participants on this committee represented those agencies in which volunteers would be used, and where restorative justice practices are in place or being developed. This group agreed to meet monthly and detailed minutes recorded their decisions and actions. This group met seven times during the course of the project.

Although this group was pulled together to address the issues that would arise from the work of the project, primarily in relationship to volunteers, it was clear that the ‘partnering’ had a function of its own. These meetings were used as a means to learn about one another’s work, share updated information in changes of programs provincially and locally, and to brainstorm on crime prevention, restorative justice and associated issues.

It is important to note that prior to this project there was no formal mechanism which brought these partners together. Further, the structure of the group established new relationships by involving youth organizations, and schools in a proactive program development relationship with the justice system,(as opposed to reactive individual crisis problem solving.)

Involvement with the Volunteers

As part of the volunteer training program one evening was set aside for the agency staff to ‘meet and greet’ the volunteers. Both partners and volunteers considered this activity essential to increasing their knowledge about expectations and capacities on both sides. As opportunities arose to use volunteers they had additional exposure to other staff involved in these agencies.

Critical issues of discussion and decision-making processes

Initially the partners at the Inter-Agency and Management

Committees responded to this project as a means to address two critical issues that had been involved in the pre project consultations: need to coordinate action on community justice in order to have bigger impact on crime prevention and the need for volunteers to assist restorative justice initiatives. Equally as important partners recognized this as an opportunity to build community support for proactive, preventive approaches. This latter issue was of particular importance to the RCMP in conjunction with their Community Policing initiatives and the development of Community Justice Forums.

At both committee levels issues were identified by project staff or from within the group for discussion. Some of the issues which had the most impact on the project were:

    "how volunteers would be selected for each initiative"

    "how volunteers could be provided with supervision and support,

    "volunteer insurance and oaths of confidentiality"

    "changes to the training program"

    "opportunities for community awareness activities"

    "opportunities for presentations"

    "changes and developments in individual program policies and directions"

One of the most significant contributions of both these groups was their thoughtful participation in evaluation discussions. These lengthy but energetic discussions were conducted early in the project

(expectations and success indicators) and near the end of the project ("What worked, what didn’t, where do we go from here?"). The partners contributed to direction for this project as well as recommendations for future work.


4.6 Community Awareness Activities

Project Activities

This project’s planned activity was to establish a Communications Committee which would ‘manage’ the p.r. for the project and develop community awareness messages and media regarding crime prevention in general and restorative justice practices. In lieu of this committee being established spontaneous ‘working groups’ developed through contacts with the community and the responding interest in this project. These working groups were the Mount Allison marketing research students, the Universite de Moncton communication students, and the partners involved in the mall display group. Additionally, one reporter’s interest in this topic helped to spawn a number of newspaper articles throughout the life of the project.

Lastly, growing interest in the community resulted in 6 requests for presentations.

Increasing public awareness about how restorative justice links to crime prevention was an objective shared by all partners. However, this was particularly important to the John Howard Society in seeking volunteers, the Department of Public Safety in seeking the best way to help victims, and the RCMP to support Community Justice Forums and Community Policing Initiatives.

Community awareness was jump started by two announcements of the funding of the project and the advertisements for volunteers.

Project Kick-off

As a project kick-off a travelling road show promoted the concepts of Restorative Justice, and the repercussions from a life of crime to over 100 high school students. Using rap music, skits and poetry these students gained insight into crime prevention geared towards their own age group.

This event prompted the first newspaper article and was one of the first links to developing a pilot project within a school site.

University of Mount Allison Research Study

Although the project was only one third completed, the opportunity developed for four student teams to conduct a research study in the greater Moncton Area to determine what people understood about the role of the John Howard Society, crime prevention, community involvement and restorative justice. This study also provided insight into what misconceptions were present in the community and what media was most used by people for information. Twenty students were involved in conducting 200 telephone interviews. Information was collated, analyzed and presented in written documentation to the John Howard Society for its use.

Some of the key findings of this survey were significant to the project and will continue to be significant to future crime prevention initiatives. As assumed, the general populations knowledge of restorative justice was limited, with only 10% of the respondents knowing what this was, however of those that did know, over 80% believed that using restorative justice practices was effective in crime prevention and should be supported. The study also found that the community is fertile for continued initiatives with over 85% believing efforts should be geared towards crime prevention and over 70% believing that the community should be involved in these efforts.

The study provided recommendations about the best means and messages to use to inform the community about offenders and the response of restorative justice.

Media Student Project

This project, conducted by two students at the Universite de Moncton also provided insight into the types of messages and media that would be useful to the project and to the John Howard Society and to the messages of community involvement in crime prevention. The students prepared a press release and provided information on ‘how to conduct a press conference.’ The students prepared a written report with recommendations that can continue to be used.

In both student projects the twenty-two students involved by necessity became familiar with the issues of this project and the work in community justice.

The Amazing Mall Story

Police Week prompted a discussion among the members of the Inter-Agency Committee about what could be done in a joint public awareness event. As a result several staff from partnering agencies constructed a mall display and volunteered their time to be present in the mall for a Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. During this time over 200 persons approached this display and were involved with representatives fromthe project. The theme Friday evening was "What is Restorative Justice?" and on Saturday was " Have you ever been a victim?" It was apparent that the RCMP in dress uniform was an attraction and opened persons to communicate on a wide range of related issues.

Addiional Community Awareness Opportunities

During the course of the project presentations were requested and responded to by project staff, partners, and/or volunteers. Over 18 presentations were made in total. The positive response to these presentations prompted the Project Coordinator to submit a proposed presentation for the International Real Justice Conference which was accepted.


4.7 Additional, unplanned activities and events affecting the project

Selection of Riverview High school as pilot project

For a variety of reasons it was difficult for the school district to be involved in this project ‘as a district.’ However, the administration of one high school was interested in developing a peer mediation and conflict resolution program within their school. This school was designated as a pilot project for the district. The project accepted two of this school’s students within the training program. Project staff are involved in helping this school further develop its program with the intention of five more students becoming trained. Some school staff participated in some training sessions, and the school itself was the site of several training sessions.


5.0 Project Evaluation


5.1 Evaluation Design and Methodology

This evaluation was prepared to act as both a guide and an informant to the project process over the length of the project. The design is particpatory with staff, partners and volunteers being the key informants to critical issues. The work of the project as outlined in the original proposal was the basis for a developed evaluation framework, with understanding that as new work emerged the evaluation design would be modified.

The following framework questions and outline were developed in consultation with key partners identified in the project. An independent evaluator was contracted to assist with the design of the evaluation, tools, and facilitating the analysis. The need to evaluate this project’s processes and outcomes was identified in both the Management and Inter-Agency Committees, and in the initial volunteer orientation. Key evaluation questions and success indicators (already noted) were suggested by partners, potential volunteers, training facilitators, and the John Howard Society staff.


5.2 Evaluation Framework

Key Questions-Developing Community Partnerships MeasurementsTools
How has this project developed and/or strengthened community partnerships to deal with community justice and crime prevention issues?

-What have been the opportunities for increased collaboration?

-How did the activities, communication, and/or other project processes contribute to other organizations developing interest, leadership and ownership? How has that interest and ownership been demonstrated?

-What benefits did the partners experience by participating in this project? How did the project benefit?

-What has been learned about the process of developing collaboration that can inform further work in developing or supporting Restorative Justice practices - what has worked and what has not?

Meeting attendance reflects committed participation by a wide cross section of partners

Management meeting minutes reflect participation by all partners and shared decision-making

Incidences of increased collaboration

Participation of partners in training

Responses of partners in interviews

Provision of supervision of volunteers

Focus Group discussions

 

Interviews

Review of minutes

Key Questions: Developing Community Capacity through Volunteer MobilizationMeasurementsTools
How has this project increased the community’s capacity to deal with crime, victimization and restorative justice?

-What recruitment practices or messages attracted volunteers to training?

-What expectations issues/concerns were identified by volunteers regarding training, and how were these addressed?

-How were the objectives of each training session developed and how were they met?

-What specific aspects of the training sessions were rated by volunteers as most helpful, least helpful and why?

-How do the volunteers demonstrate increased knowledge and skills?

-What opportunities for volunteer utilization have been developed? What barriers have occurred?

Number and type of positive indicators in feedback questionnaires

Pre and post testing demonstrating changes in knowledge

Supervision of volunteers, demonstration of abilities

Monitoring of volunteer placement demonstrates successful placement, satisfied organizations, satisfied volunteers.

Feedback questionnaires

Focus group discussions

 

Interviews

Key Questions-
Community Awareness
MeasurementsTools
How has this project increased public awareness about effective approaches to crime prevention, and restorative justice?

-What were the responses to communiques regarding the project, crime prevention or restorative justice practices?

-What issues require clarification, different or increased marketing?

-What changes in knowledge or interest have been demonstrated as a result of increased community

awareness

Survey results

Responses from newspaper articles- calls, letters to editor

Responses to volunteer solicitation

Responses to presentations

 

Review of documentation

Review of Mount Allison Study

Staff and partner interviews


5.3 Evaluation Methodology and Limits

Tools for interviews, training feedback and focus groups questions are developed and attached separate project manual: Community Justice Volunteer Mobilization Project Tools. Summaries of collected information were compiled by the contracted evaluation consultant and presented to the project staff, and appropriate committees for analytic discussion. Additional evaluation questions were developed through those same means. This evaluation does not attempt to develop or test impact measures. Rather the evaluation aimed to provide ‘process’ information throughout the life of the project to ensure that the project activities can be adjusted based on the information developed. Measurable outcomes based on the objectives were included as part of the evaluation questions. The specific evaluation processes were:

  • Initial focus group discussion with volunteers
  • Initial evaluation discussion with Management Committee
  • Initial evaluation discussion with Inter-Agency Committee
  • Initial interviews with project staff, available members of Management Committee
  • Summary of feedback to project staff
  • On-going review of training feedback questionnaires and feedback to project staff
  • Observations of training sessions
  • Final evaluation discussion meetings with volunteers, Management Committee and Inter-Agency Committee
  • Final interviews with staff, selected members of Management Committee, selected partners
  • Review of project documentation
  • Collaborative development of the final project report


6.0 Evaluation: Building Community Capacity Through Volunteer Mobilization

How has this project increased the community’s capacity to be involved in crime prevention and restorative justice issues?


6.1 What recruitment practices or messages attracted volunteers to training? What expectations issues/concerns were identified by volunteers regarding training, and how were these addressed? What barriers prevented participants from meeting their expectations?.

Approximately one-third of the volunteers heard about the opportunity for training through a media contact, while the remaining had some personal interest or contact with the John Howard Society, or one of the partners from the Inter-Agency Committee. Both methods were considered successful in bringing people to the first orientation night.

The volunteers expressed three specific expectations overall: 1) learning more about community justice issues, specifically restorative justice measures 2) gaining specific skills related to work with offenders and/or victims and 3) having the opportunity to use these skills in a supervised volunteer capacity. These expectations were voiced at the first orientation night and in subsequent discussions. A focus group discussion, conducted at the end of the last training session, revealed that the first expectation was satisfactorily met.

At the time of this report the process for full implementation of the volunteers is still being developed and carried out. However, seven new volunteers have been involved in Community Justice Forums, and Circles of Support under supervision. Other volunteers already involved with CSC indicated that they immediately found the information and skills useful in their work.

The most significant barrier for most participants was the length of time involved in the training program. Although most participants could commit to a weekly session, the spread over five months was considered too long. The day long sessions required for specific skill training limited some participants, as well.

A second barrier perceived by the volunteers was the intentional ‘generalness and overview’ content of much of the training. The process of enabling volunteers to learn about the variety of programs and possible uses of the volunteer skills was described as ‘confusing’ and/or ‘overwhelming’ at first. However, at the closure of the project most volunteers agreed that this general approach was necessary to ensure that they had enough information to make appropriate choices about where and how they wanted to work.

Q: How were the objectives of each training session developed and how were they met? What specific aspects of the training sessions were rated by volunteers as most helpful, least helpful and why?

The objectives of each training session were determined jointly by the Project Coordinator, the specific trainer with general input by the Inter-Agency Committee members. According to the evaluation feedback from the participants, the objectives and expectations were met satisfactorily over 90% of the time. Information was gathered on feedback questionnaires following each training session, and reviewed by the Project Coordinator. Based on this feedback modifications to allow for more discussion, and response for specific information were made in subsequent sessions.

The volunteers rated the specific practice sessions involved in Community Justice Forums, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and Circles of Support as the most helpful and informative. However, the sessions on "victim rights," and "working with sexual offenders" elicited the highest number emotional responses and comments of personal interest. All volunteers considered that much of the information regarding the orientation to CSC could have been provided in written format and discussed in shorter time periods. Areas in which volunteers requested more information were family violence, and opportunities for more role playing and discussions.

Q: How have the volunteers demonstrated increased knowledge and skills?

Throughout the training sessions volunteers participated in discussions which demonstrated to both trainers and the Project Coordinator their developing knowledge. Additionally, three volunteers have developed and presented community information sessions using the knowledge gained from training. According to their instructor, two project participants, students in a correctional employment program, demonstrated significantly more knowledge than their fellow students based on the project’s training. At the time of training closure seven volunteers have had the opportunity to demonstrate their skills in Adult Alternative Measures, Circles of Support and Community Justice Forums under supervision. Closing interviews have been conducted with each volunteer in which the Project Coordinator will make a final assessment of their capacity and specific areas of interest.

Lastly, volunteers themselves rated the following as areas of significant learning:

  • increased understanding (and empathy) with offenders
  • increased understanding of the rights, and needs of the victims
  • increased understanding about how communities and groups work and skills in group dynamics
  • increased knowledge about restorative justice, the CSC system and crime prevention in general

Q: How did this project enhance the opportunities for volunteer utilization and/or address barriers to volunteer participation in restorative justice?

As a result working in this project the RCMP ( twenty-one members participated in project activities, or training) increased their understanding and confidence of the role of volunteers in Community Justice Forums. There has been an increase in referrals to Community Justice Forums.

(There have been ten referrals since June 1, 2000.)

Another opportunity was created through the enhancement of the Alternative Measures Program. Increased volunteer capacity has increased the potential for this committee to be convened more expediently. Additionally, a volunteer completed a victim/offender mediation as an enhancement to the Alternative Measures Program recommendations.

One of the barriers to volunteer participation in the past has been the lack of coordination regarding volunteer availability and capacity. Consequently few volunteers were known to a few staff and there was limited access to full utilization of the restorative justice programs. The project enabled staff coordinating these services to have more information about the volunteers.

Another key barrier to using volunteers is the ability of the program agency to provide adequate supervision and support. This issue continues to need development with all of the partners, however with the John Howard Society providing the coordination of the Adult Alternative Measures Program and acting as a conduit for contacting volunteers for other restorative justice practices, some measure of this supervision is being addressed.

A final example of the increased expediency and capacity of volunteers was a recent response to the need for a Circle of Support to be quickly mobilized. A high-risk sexual offender was being released to the community, with anticipated backlash and risk factors. The Circle of Support was organized with four of the participates being new volunteers from the project. Committee members worked closely with this man for four months, until he was relocated to another province. Their activity is seen as directly decreasing the probability of his reoffending during his time in Moncton. Recently he has contacted the group, expressing his thanks and sharing information about his current situation. Upon his return to Moncton he has contacted the John Howard Society and asked that the Circle reconvene.


6.2 What have we learned regarding the recruitment, training and implementation of volunteers?

Recruitment, training and use of volunteers requires a clear understanding of what the role of the volunteers is going to be from the onset. The questions of ‘what are we going to do?’, and ‘who are we going to be working with?’ were the foremost questions from the onset of the project until the closure. It was important that the Project Coordinator, trainers, and partners were consistent in providing direction about the possible types of volunteer work and how volunteers would be supported and supervised.

It was identified by both the volunteers and the Inter-Agency Committee that more training in family violence issues is appropriate. This issue was not addressed primarily due to the need to develop more specific criteria for safe and responsible use of mediation or conferencing activities with this population.

Other learnings include:

    _ Practical skill application, ongoing support and supervision are the most critical issues that volunteers need. In working in partnership with other organizations to ‘place volunteers’ it was essential that the John Howard Society assumed a coordinating role to ensure that these issues are addressed.

    _ That ‘training’ is an educational process involves information sharing, experiencing and discussion/debriefing. The time allotment for each component needs to be balanced and clearly communicated to potential volunteers.

    _ Involving partners in a training program broadens the scope of information available to volunteers, as well as broadens their exposure to the different opportunities to use their skills. The benefits of having multi-partners involved in training outweighs the obstacles of arranging schedules around so many different people.

    _ That sustainability can be achieved by starting with a small group of potential volunteers and developing their skills and knowledge base so that they act as mentors for the next group.


6.3 Impacts of the Volunteer Mobilization component of this project

  • One hundred and twenty persons comprised of staff from partnering organizations, existing CSC volunteers, students and new volunteers participated in some or all aspects of the training program. All participants indicated that their knowledge and skills increased as a result of this project.
  • All restorative justice initiatives in the Greater Moncton Area have an increased number of community volunteers as resources to share in this work.
  • New opportunities to develop crime prevention initiatives will continue in the school system based on the experiences of the staff and students involved in the pilot project made possible through this project.

?Volunteers, and partnering staff demonstrate increased knowledge, skills and support for restorative justice initiatives.

  • Staff from partnering agencies have developed ‘partnering relationships’ with volunteers. Professional staff demonstrate increased trust and make specific requests for individual volunteers based on the knowledge of their ( the volunteer’s skills and interest)


7.0 Evaluation: Partnership Development

How has this project developed and/or strengthened community based partnerships that respond to crime prevention issues?

 
7.1 Q: How did the activities, communication, and/or other project processes contribute to other organizations and departments developing interest, leadership and ownership of crime prevention, community initiatives and restorative justice practices? How has that interest and ownership been demonstrated?

As already stated the interest in this project stemmed from the pre project consultations and the project was planned to meet the collective priorities of partners and the community at large. Shared ownership from the large number of partners involved with the Inter-Agency Committee developed over time as people learned more about one another’s work, the opportunities and barriers that they each faced. Meetings became more discussion and less project reporting during the eight month period. Increased ownership was demonstrated by continued high attendance at meetings, the contributions of time and resources towards training and the participation of partners in activities beyond the meetings. (mall display, training sessions, public speaking)

Another indication of ‘shared ownership’ occurred at the closure of the project when the Department of Public Safety contracted with the John Howard Society to coordinate the Adult Alternative Measures Program. This level of trust was developed through the work in this project.

The most significant demonstration of shared ownership is in the commitment of these partners to continue to work together after project closure.

Q: What benefits did the partners experience by participating in this project? How did the project benefit by their participation?

Partners indicated that they benefited from this project in several significant ways:

  • increased knowledge about what other agencies are providing
  • increased access to skilled volunteers
  • increased opportunities to work collaboratively in positive community program
  • increased positive public exposure to their work, to crime prevention, and to restorative justice
  • increased access to other professionals for program problem solving ?

Partners and project staff indicated that the project benefited from partners input and resources in the following ways:

  • provision of training from cross section of professionals
  • review of training program from variety of perspectives, broadened scope of training
  • provision of information regarding resources
  • support for project staff
  • cumulative effect on restorative justice issues, speaking with one voice, increased number of partners involved

Q. What are the barriers to developing partnerships in this type of project and how were they addressed?

Frequently in community based work ‘partnering’ has meant nothing more than providing a letter of support or sitting in an occasional meeting listening to a project report. This is due to two persistent barriers- time for staff of agencies to work on issues not directly related to their mandate and lack of real input into the problems and processes another agency might use to address issues. This project did require upfront a significant amount of time from partners to develop and participate in the training, to participate in planning meetings and to contribute resources to support the project. However, the project geared itself from the onset to meeting the collective agenda, rather than an agenda on the sponsoring agency. The project staff repeatedly brought issues to the Inter- Agency and Management Committees for their discussion and resolution, rather than just reporting on the project’s work. In addition to meetings the project staff met individually with partners to help determine where they fit into the process of developing a community response to restorative justice.

Lack of time did limit one critical partner, who is responsible for family violence issues, from participating in the Inter-Agency Committee. However, the Project Coordinator made a point of meeting individually with them to keep them informed and respond to their concerns.

The following chart indicates the breakdown of hours spent by partnering staff and volunteers.

    Volunteer hours of community members - 153

    Volunteer hours of project volunteers in training -960

    Volunteer hours of project volunteers in service - 132 and still counting

    Volunteered hours by staff of other agencies - 266

    Volunteered hours by trainers -88


7.2 Learnings regarding Community Partnership Development

What has been learned about the process of developing collaboration that can inform further work in developing or supporting Restorative Justice practices - what has worked and what has not?

_ That time is essential to develop a collective sense of direction and ownership to community based work. Time is required to accurately assess what is needed, the best means to address these needs and to identify common goals. Time is needed for each partner to get to know and trust the other partners in order to share responsibilities.

_ That although getting to ‘action’ takes longer when working in partnership with other agencies and organizations, this ‘developmental time’ results in others continuing action on their own without waiting for the project sponsor to lead or direct.

_ That the project sponsor’s role is catalytic, rather than directive. Ownership for the direction and outcomes is shared.

_ Partnership work must have results and give something back to partners and their agenda to keep them at the table.

7.3 Impacts of Partnership

What have been the opportunities for increased collaboration that have been developed?

As a result of this project the following opportunities have been developed for ongoing collaboration in crime prevention and restorative justice initiatives:

  • Commitment of partners to continue to work together through Phase II
  • Persons in other communities, outside of Greater Moncton Area, specifically Chipman and Big Cove will continue to share information and potentially develop similar programs within their own communities. Sharing of this project information with the Chipman Restorative Justice in Rural Communities project initiated a proposed shared youth initiative between Chipman, Fredericton and Moncton. These youth would train in peer mediation and be assisted to participate in consultations concerning the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
  • RCMP are participating in increased number of Community Justice Forums external to the immediate region.
  • The Department of Public Safety contracted to the John Howard Society to coordinate the Adult Alternative Measures Program
  • Other John Howard Society’s are considering this model and the ways to implement this ( JHS-NB, JHS-PEI)


8.0 Evaluation: Community Awareness

How has this project increased public awareness about effective approaches to crime prevention and restorative justice?

8.1 Q What were the responses to communiques regarding the project, crime prevention or restorative justice practices? What issues require clarification, different or increased marketing?

What changes in knowledge or interest have been demonstrated as a result of increased community awareness?

The evaluation of the community awareness component is primarily subjective based on the experiences of volunteers and community partners in their dealings with the public.

Overall community partners believed that the project enabled several issues to be profiled positively in media, and in public speaking presentation. Those issues were:

role of the John Howard Society and other agencies

links between crime prevention and restorative justice

information about restorative justice

information about how communities can be involved

information on services or options available for victims of crime

increased public profile of associated partners

The positive response of volunteer recruitment was one indicator that the newspaper articles were effective. Another indicator was the interaction at the mall display with over 200 people. Those participating in the display indicated that there were very few negative encounters during that time.

The Mount Allison study indicated that there are community misconceptions about restorative justice, primarily from the point of view that this approach makes it easier on offenders. In four of the articles this issue was addressed specifically to counter this perception. Having the feedback from the study clearly directs the organizations involved in this work direct their communications to this perception specifically.

The continuing requests for public speaking and presentations indicates that the community interest is continuing to grow regarding these issues. Both university studies provide guidance how to make the most of these opportunities. At this time there is a request for a presentation to the Safer Schools, Safer Communities Conference in November 2000, Westmorland Institution in September and more mall displays and presentations during Restorative Justice week.

Finally, one indicator that community awareness is growing more positively was the support for this work from those organizations primarily working with victims. Through both the partnering actions and the increased positive media these groups were able to understand that restorative justice actually gives more voice and power to victims. This indicator was identified by several partners as a significant step in this community.


8.2 Learnings about Community Awareness

_ From a project standpoint, one significant learning is that the work in developing specific public information is not a small ‘add-on’ to project work, but an integral and time consuming part of the process.

_ Using plain language and real examples is imperative- the concepts and principles of Restorative Justice are frequently too abstract to be understood and accepted easily.

_ That discussion format is more effective than formal presentations. Effective learning takes place when the listeners get involved. Restorative justice discussions raise several questions and emotions for people, and presentations need to accommodate them.

_ That although community justice and restorative justice are often used interchangeably, this is confusing to community members. Select one phrase, preferably "Restorative Justice" and use it carefully and sparingly.


8.3 Impacts of the Community Awareness Initiatives

  • As a result of this project and the media coverage all partners experienced positive image building in the community. This has a direct affect on being able to use Restorative Justice practices in the community effectively. Additionally this helps other initiatives such as the RCMP Community Policing, Community Justice Forums, Circles of Support, and Adult Alternative Measures Program.

A ‘Buzz has been created by this project which has resulted in other organizations (that had not previously been associated with crime prevention) collaborating with the John Howard Society to develop other work. Specifically this has been:

  • Riverview Town Council
  • New Brunswick Housing
  • New Brunswick Association of Block Parents
  • Correctional Training programs
  • John Howard Society of PEI
  • Town of Chipman
  • John Howard Society of New Brunswick

There has been an increased number of invitations to share this information

  • Safer Schools/Safer Communities Conference in New Brunswick
  • Restorative Justice Conference in New Brunswick
  • International Real Justice Conference on Conferencing


9.0 Conclusions and Recommendations


9.1 Re: Community Capacity Building through Volunteer Mobilization

In conclusion, this project effectively addressed its objective to increase the number of skilled volunteers in restorative justice and to increase the opportunities for them to work effectively in crime prevention initiatives. The volunteers have selected areas in which to work and a supportive environment has been created to sustain their work. The continued coordination by the John Howard Society is considered critical to provide upgrading education and training, as well as support.

The following recommendations were made by volunteers, community partners, project staff and the external evaluation consultant.

1. Ensure an ongoing training and support infrastructure for active volunteers based on needs they and or agencies identify.

2. Centralized coordination of volunteers defined, outlining expectations of each agency in writing.

3. Consider the following revisions specific to the training program:

    a) Develop alternative means of providing CSC information but still conforming to CSC orientation requirements.

    b) Increase opportunities for skill practices

    c) Increase training in family violence.


9.2 Re: Partnership Development

In conclusion, partnership development was the most critical component of this project. Partnership development directly impacted on the success of the development and resourcing of the training program, and the successful implementation of volunteers. Additionally, the partnership model enabled increased knowledge among all partners about their collective work and developed new opportunities to work together. Additional communities have been impacted by the work of this project and there is a commitment to continue to work in collaboration. The project resulted in new recognition of the role of the John Howard Society and the potential for community based groups to take a lead in crime prevention and other initiatives which expand the opportunities for provincial or federal government agencies or departments.

The following recommendations were made by volunteers, community partners, project staff and the external evaluation consultant.

1. That the community needs one agency to assume coordination of partnering and community development initiatives as this is in everyone’s best interest but in no ones direct mandate.

2. That additional partners that need to be brought forward in this work are the judges and lawyers involved with the formal justice system.


9.3 Re: Community Awareness

In summary, this project provided significant opportunities for increasing public awareness about crime prevention and restorative justice in both media and practical applications. There is reason to believe with increased volunteer activity in restorative justice there will be continued local media’s interest in this topic. There is recognition that affecting peoples beliefs about restorative justice is affecting their value system and that only considerable time and experience will people change their values. However, the Mt. Allison marketing study results demonstrate that the high level of support for crime prevention and community involvement will continue to provide fertilization for this work. It is recognized that the John Howard Society and its partners need to adopt a structured communication plan to address misconceptions and fears that are present in the community in relation to offenders.

The following recommendations were made by volunteers, community partners, project staff and the external evaluation consultant.

1. Review the recommendations of the Mount Allison study and develop aplanned communication action to address misconceptions, and continue the promotion of positive benefits to crime prevention and restorative justice practices.

2. Continue ongoing speaking engagements to update and inform community groups

3. Maintain positive media contacts


9.4 Re: Sustainability and the Next Steps

The project, as per the training component, is completed by the end of September when the eligible volunteers received their final Victim/Offender Training. However there is a need to continue to recruit volunteers and to provide upgrading for existing volunteers.

The partners currently involved with the Inter-Agency Committee have agreed that meeting together to work on training, program development issues, and to share information is a valuable use of their time and are committed to continuing.

The results of this project report have been circulated to all partners for their final input and is being made available to organizations and government departments who were not involved in the project. The attached Volunteer Mobilization Training Manual will be available for others to consider this type of training. Interest in the work of the Community Justice Volunteer Mobilization Project has created in several communities and interest groups a desire to develop more in-depth understanding of the issues being raised within their communities. Community leaders have expressed a collective commitment to addressing these issues in a more restorative manner. There is a noted willingness from citizens affected to invest their own time and energy into restoring relationships and community healing. Specific areas identified for further development are:

Developing skills for conflict resolution and problem solving within Tenant Associations, public housing neighborhoods, and those communities most affected by crime;

Continuing the development and support for the Codiac RCMP’s commitment towards preventative and restorative measures;

Developing the means to foster community healing;

Continued development and support for School based initiatives;

Developing an infrastructure to support the work of volunteers.

Phase II of this project will focus on these issues. while still addressing volunteer implementation and partner sustainability. Specific areas for development include working with specific neighborhood communities within the Greater Moncton Area and continued development of the Riverview High School pilot project, and potential projects in other school districts. It is anticipated that the partners will continue to share in much of this work. New partnerships are being developed within the formal justice system, and the community to not only maintain the framework developed, but to carry this forward.