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Program provides positive results

The Mountain Mail - Thursday, August 7, 2014

Dear Editor:

We have two purposes for writing this, both relating to the Full Circle Restorative Justice program.

Back in January, there were acts of vandalism committed at the old Starbuck Dairy, which we own. Windows were broken and graffiti was spray-painted on a couple of the buildings.

When the young men were arrested, we certainly didn’t have very charitable thoughts toward them, but our friend Molly Walker encouraged us to look into the restorative justice program as an alternative to the judicial system. We contacted Program Director Patty LaTaille, who has very graciously led us through the hoops to where we are now … about 7 months after the vandalism was committed.

After meeting with the young men and their parents and Patty, Andrea, and Joe from Full Circle Restorative Justice, we came up with a contract between the young men and us whereby they would each perform 47½ hours, working at the rate of $7 an hour, to satisfy payment for damages claimed.

Dakota worked Fridays and Saturdays, starting in April, and he willingly helped clean ditches and load rocks from some of the fields on our property. He had a good attitude and expressed appreciation for the opportunity to participate in this program. After he had completed his obligation, we hired him to do some other jobs on the property, and he was happy to do the work, for which he was paid.

Brian and Daniel completed their obligation on June 7, having worked every day starting June 2. They, also, willingly performed every task that was assigned to them. They were self motivated and they did a good and thorough job of painting and the prep work that was done before the actual painting. They spent the first day mowing weeds and cleaning up our property around the old Starbuck Dairy.

It was hard work, and it was dirty work, and they did not complain. They commented about the improvement of the old buildings and the area around them, and appeared to be proud of their contributions.

We are hopeful that they recognize the importance of this program and that they have learned that when they vandalize property, the victims are people like us, and they would stop and think before committing another foolish crime.

With help from responsible adults, possibly spiritual guidance of some sort, and encouragement to be involved in the community in which they live in a responsible way, these young men will be successful, respected adults with a bright future.

In closing, we feel that the restorative justice program is such a positive way to encourage and direct young people who make poor choices at some point in their lives. It’s a way to help them change the path that they might be taking, and the people involved are obviously very interested and committed to helping them make those changes.

Harold and Judy Starbuck,

Because justice does not always mean punishment

PO Box 699
County Courthouse Third Floor
Salida, CO 81201
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