The Victim Services/ Restorative Justice Unit provides centralized coordination of the Division’s victim and restorative community justice services. This office provides direct services, leadership, applied program development, and technical assistance to victims, community members and DYC staff.
Victims of crime have rights that are guaranteed by the Colorado State Constitution. Assisting victims in understanding and exercising these rights is a priority for Division of Youth Corrections (DYC) staff. In addition to feeling victimized as a result of criminal activity, individuals, their families and communities can also feel victimized by the legal system. For this reason the Division of Youth Corrections works to ensure that victims of crimes perpetrated by youth in DYC custody are treated with fairness and compassion throughout the various stages of the criminal justice process.
Victim Services staff work to address the diverse needs of victims in an attempt to reduce the potential for re-victimization. In support of these goals, DYC staff:
DYC Victim Services staff seeks to empower crime victims by providing information and various opportunities to engage in services at a level that is appropriate, and comfortable, for each individual.
DYC staff provide a variety of services and information to victims of crime that include,
The Victim Services/Restorative Justice Coordinator also provides training for DYC staff regarding the responsibilities of the Division under the Victim Rights Act, the impact of crime on victims, and Victim Empathy Class facilitator training.
Once enrolled in the Victim Notification (VNOT) Program, victims are provided information throughout the various critical stages of the juvenile offender’s supervision. Effective April 2012 , The Division of Youth Corrections VNOT program actively enrolls victims of crimes that are identified in the Colorado Victim Rights Amendment (VRA) and enabling legislation. This means that the Division of Youth Corrections (DYC) will enroll known crime victims in each of these cases, and they will provide critical stage notification as a standard practice. If you do not wish to be enrolled in the DYC victim notification program, you may disenroll from the VNOT program at any time.
The Division of Youth Corrections serves two types of youth, those who are being held in detention for short periods of time, and those offenders who have been committed to the custody of the Department of Human Services, Division of Youth Corrections.
Detention Youth – Crime victims of detained youth are enrolled as a result of information received from criminal justice agency victim advocates. These advocates are located in Sheriff Offices, Police Departments and District Attorney Offices. Critical stage notification for crime victims take place through an automated system called the Victim Information Notification Everyday (VINE) Program. Crime victims may disenroll from the VINE program by following the guidelines provided at the end of each telephone contact made to them through the VINE automated system.
Committed Youth - Individuals who have been crime victims of VRA identified crimes are automatically enrolled in the VNOT program and receive critical stage notification throughout DYC youth supervision. Individuals who do not want to receive critical stage notification for committed youth must complete and submit a disenrollment form to the Division of Youth Corrections.
Crime victims will receive critical stage notification if they have provided and maintain accurate and current contact information with DYC staff. Crime Victims are responsible for notifying the Division of Youth Corrections to initiate changes to their personal contact information by emailing Spiro.Koinis@state.co.us
Restorative Community Justice (RCJ) practices and principles have been utilized over many centuries to, “… to involve, to the extent possible those who have a stake in a specific offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.” (Zehr, 2002)
Likewise, Restorative Community Justice is an integral component of the Division of Youth Corrections mission and vision. However, as a juvenile corrections agency, focused primarily on the rehabilitation of offenders, it can be very difficult to have all stakeholders come together to participate in an RCJ process. The Division seeks to provide every willing victim of crime, who is interested in such a process, safe and structured opportunities to do so. Additional information is available through the Victim Services/Restorative Justice Coordinator.
Many times, individuals who are impacted by crime may choose other ways in which to work towards ‘restoration’. The Division is currently focused on developing opportunities for victims and community members to become involved in RCJ processes. These opportunities may include serving on impact panels, volunteer occasions, or working with youth and staff in community service projects.
In contrast to a punishment focused or “retributive” organizational setting, the Division seeks to establish a “Restorative Culture”. Formal processes designed to teach youth new skills as well as imbuing daily routines with an RCJ focus characterize such an atmosphere. Restorative principles and strengths based practices are embedded throughout everyday processes within the detention and commitment process. Activities range from the highly structured and more intense to the less formal. Examples of RCJ practices that have been implemented over the past ten years are Victim Empathy groups, accountability circles, apology letters, conflict mediation, victim offender mediation, and family conferencing.
By embracing RCJ principles and practice, the Division of Youth Corrections provides youth, victims and communities the services and opportunities to address the harm experienced and become involved in processes and activities that aid individuals to become increasingly whole.
As youth experience these day-to-day restorative applications and services, they develop new skill sets that are used to repair the harm to victims and their communities.