The Center for Community Justice helps work toward safer communities in Elkhart County by providing pathways to healing for those in need. The Center for Community practices Restorative Justice to heal the harm caused by crime, strengthen conflict resolution skills, and engage a stronger community. The Center for Community Justice is rooted in the principles of Restorative Justice, assisting Elkhart County through Restorative Mediation and Facilitation, Restorative Reentry work and Restorative Training.
The Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP) is the largest type of referral source within CCJ's Mediation and Facilitation services. It was founded in Elkhart in 1978, and was one of the first of its kind in North America. The program operates out of a philosophy of restorative justice which views crime, fundamentally, as harm done to people and communities. Restorative justice maintains that adequate response to crime must involve addressing that harm. VORP staff work with both the victim and the offender in court-referred cases to identify how crime affected the victim and what steps the offender can take to begin to make things right.
VORP facilitates a conversation that allows victims to ask questions about why the offense was committed and to tell the offender how it affected them. It is also a conversation that gives offenders an opportunity to take responsibility for their actions by taking steps to address the harm they caused. This conversation may involve a face-to-face meeting between the victim and offender, or it may be facilitated indirectly by VORP staff.