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Neighborhood Court Program
Thank you for your interest in the Benicia’s Neighborhood Court Program. Below you will find more information on the program, as well copies of our panelist and facilitator applications and codes of conduct.
Neighborhood Court is a non-traditional approach to prosecution of low-level crimes. Only certain misdemeanor and infraction offenses will qualify for participation in the program. Neighborhood Court employs a Restorative Justice Program initiated by the Solano County District Attorney’s Office in cooperation with Benicia Police Department and City of Benicia to address low-level crimes through community based solutions. The program aims to swiftly address the harm caused by the offense, while keeping the case outside the criminal justice system. The program focuses on the harm done to not only an individual, but to the community, and repairing them.
Neighborhood Court strengthens the community by restoring victims and making them whole through restitution for monetary loss or property damage. Neighborhood Court restores the community by permitting residents to oversee the resolution of offenses that impact their community. Neighborhood Court also restores the offender by allowing him or her to work with the residents in their community to help provide insight into the impact of their offense on the community. The program also provides the additional benefit of allowing the offender to avoid having a conviction on their record. Finally, Neighborhood Court also educates the offender by letting him or her learn why they have committed the offense.
The Neighborhood Court panel is made up of a diverse group of problem-solving and fair-minded people from the community, which includes a volunteer Facilitator and a group of volunteer Panelists. The Facilitator acts as the leader of the conference and guides the participants through a step-by-step restorative process which names the harms created by the crime and identifies how to develop an agreement to make things right. Additionally, two to three Panelists assist the Facilitator in representing the community’s needs, interests, and perspectives with respect to the crime that has been committed by naming the harms the community has experienced, asking questions to understand the circumstances of the crime and deciding as a group the steps necessary to make things right.
To qualify as a Facilitator or Panelist, you must:
- be at least 18 years of age
- reside or work in Benicia for the past 2 years
- have the ability to work with others to solve problems
- commit to work in the program for at least one year
- have no felony convictions or recent misdemeanor convictions.
Neighborhood Court will meet 1-2 evenings a month and Facilitators and Panelists will need to complete a 1-2 day training prior to serving. If you are interested in volunteering as a Facilitator or Panelist, please click on the links below to download the application and code of conduct. Please return your completed application to the District Attorney’s Office or Benicia Police Department no later than December 15, 2017. You can also fax your application to (707) 784-7986 or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org