Valley Court Diversion Programs
Court Diversion is an alternative to traditional court proceedings that can help offenders avoid a criminal record. Referrals are made by the Windsor County State's Attorney or Lower Grafton County prosecutors. For the Juvenile Restorative Program, referrals are made by DCF. Our services are designed to:
- Help offenders learn from their illegal conduct, develop therapeutic interventions, if appropriate, and help them make positive changes in their lives,
- Facilitate restitution for victims as well as help them cope with the impact of the offense upon their lives,
- Build bridges for victims and offenders to the community by relying on local volunteers to participate in this model of alternative justice.
The primary responsibility of board members is to respect the dignity and promote the welfare of victims and offenders and to offer restorative justice to the community. Board members encourage client growth and development in ways that foster the client’s interests and welfare. Board members will avoid fostering dependent relationships.
Active listening should be practiced by board members at all times. Board members work with clients in devising integrated, individual contracts that offer a reasonable chance of success and which are consistent with the abilities and circumstances of the clients.
Board members recognize that families are important in clients' lives and strive to enlist family understanding and involvement as a positive resource. When minors or individuals are unable to give voluntary, informed consent, parents or guardians shall be included in the process as appropriate.
Community Service Needs
Board members neither place nor participate in placing clients in community service positions that will result in damaging the interest and the welfare of clients, employers, or the public.
- Nondiscrimination - Board members do not condone or engage in discrimination based on age, color, culture, disability, ethnic group, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, or socioeconomic status.
- Respecting Differences - Board members will actively attempt to understand the diverse cultural backgrounds of the clients with whom they work. This includes, but is not limited to, learning how board members' own cultural/ethnic/racial identity influences their values and beliefs about the diversion process, and that they avoid imposing their values on clients.
Personal Needs and Values
- Personal Needs - Board members are aware of the responsibilities inherent in the diversion process, and they avoid actions that seek to meet their personal needs at the expense of victims or offenders.
- Attitudes and Values - Often there are socioeconomic, age or other differences between board members and youth offenders. Some clients come from backgrounds that lack advantages many of us take for granted. They are very aware and sensitive to this reality. Personal remarks should not be made concerning a client's clothing style, lifestyle, grooming and hygiene, personal relationships, etc. either to the client or to other board members about the client. It is very important for board members not to impose their religious, moral or class beliefs on clients. If you find yourself making statements starting with, "when I was a kid," this is probably a sign that you should rethink what you are about to say. Child rearing norms also differ widely, and members should not impose their ideas of what is a "good" parent or family. Nobody is open to change if they feel that they are not understood or respected as a person.
Board members should be aware of their influential position with respect to clients, and dual relationships should be avoided. Examples of such relationships include, but are not limited to, familial, social, financial, business, or close personal relationships with clients. When a dual relationship cannot be avoided, board members should take appropriate action, such as recusing oneself or observation without comment.
Board members do not accept as clients superiors or subordinates with whom they have administrative, supervisory, or evaluative relationships.
Sexual Intimacies with Clients
- Current Clients - Board members shall not have any type of sexual intimacies with clients and shall not develop contracts for persons with whom they have had a sexual relationship.
- Former Clients - Board members do not engage in sexual intimacies with former clients within a minimum of two years after terminating the diversion process.
- Sexual Harassment - Board members do not engage in sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is defined as sexual solicitation, physical advances, or verbal or nonverbal conduct that is sexual in nature, that occurs in connection with professional activities or roles, and that either (1) is unwelcome, is offensive, or creates a hostile environment; or (2) is sufficiently severe or intense to be perceived as harassment to a reasonable person. Sexual harassment can consist of a single intense severe act or multiple persistent or pervasive acts.
- Respect for Privacy - Board members respect their clients' right to privacy and avoid illegal and unwarranted disclosures of confidential information.
- Client Waiver - The right to privacy may be waived by the client or his or her legally recognized representative.
- Exceptions - The general requirement that board members keep information confidential does not apply when disclosure is required to prevent clear and imminent danger to the client or others or when legal requirements demand that confidential information be revealed. Board members consult with professionals when in doubt as to the validity of an exception.
- Contagious, Fatal Diseases - A board member who receives information confirming that a client has a disease commonly known to be both communicable and fatal is justified in disclosing information to an identifiable third party, who by his or her relationship with the client is at a high risk of contracting the disease. Prior to making a disclosure the board member should ascertain that the client has not already informed the third party about his or her disease and that the client is not intending to inform the third party in the immediate future.
- Court-Ordered Disclosure - When the court mandates the release of confidential information regarding a juvenile client, without parental/guardian permission, board members should request that disclosure not be required, due to potential harm to the client. Board members are accurate, honest, and unbiased in reporting their professional activities and judgments to appropriate third parties including courts
- Minimal Disclosure - When circumstances require the disclosure of confidential information, only essential information is revealed. To the extent possible, clients are informed before confidential information is disclosed.
If a board member, victim or diversion client has a grievance concerning the diversion process he/she should first consult with the diversion facilitator, if no satisfaction is obtained he/she should discuss their concerns with the Executive Director, 802-295-5078, #12, and finally, if their concerns are still not resolved they should contact Valley Court Diversion Programs Board of Directors.