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'The Public Wants to Be Involved': A Roundtable Conversation about Community and Restorative Justice
“By enlisting the public as an active ally, community justice builds trust in government, which, in turn, helps police and prosecutors build better cases. Community justice also allows agencies to go beyond merely responding to crime by promoting the development of collaborative preventive strategies. And by engaging volunteers and community-based resources, community justice saves money, lessening pressure on public budgets. Seen this way, community justice is a smart strategy, one that increases the system’s capacity for making neighborhoods safer and improves informal social controls that strengthen the capacities of communities to police themselves” (p. 2). This report summarizes the views of 20 roundtable participants regarding restorative justice in their communities. It will provide insight for those agencies and organizations looking to implement and promote restorative justice in their own communities. Topics discussed by the participants include: what community justice looks like; who the community is; whether there is a potential for bias; what the goals of community engagement are; how programs engage communities; how programs recruit and retain volunteers; how programs foster community buy-in; what the role of the victim is in community justice; and whether community justice programs produced measurable results.