Recently, The Community Restorative Justice Center, located at 576 Railroad Street in St. Johnsbury, has provided some community information about the programs and services that are offered by our organization.

Our mission is to work with all our communities in restorative processes to keep our communities safe, resolve conflict and restore relationships. This also involves the opportunity to tell the whole story, take responsibility to repair any harms caused, and provide a way back to safely live with neighbors, co-workers, and others.

Research shows that most people want a way back after harm has happened, which is safe and effective. To that end, in addition to all our other programs, we also run a free legal clinic and a general legal information and referral service. The legal clinic allows people to meet with an attorney free of charge to discuss a legal issue and receive free legal advice from a volunteer attorney. Meetings can last up to 30 minutes if necessary. The legal clinic is for low-income residents of Caledonia and Essex counties who have financial or other barriers preventing them from getting legal services. The information and referral service can assist people filling out court paperwork, answer simple questions and/or refer people to legal services when appropriate. These services are free of charge and available through the CRJC Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 pm. The CRJC phone number is 802-748-2977.

About a dozen local attorneys volunteer their time for the free legal clinic. Each month, one or two attorneys meet up to four clients each to dispense legal advice. Attorneys do not represent clients, but do give information, advice, and guidance. Each month we try to have attorneys who can cover most legal areas. The clinic does not deal with criminal cases. The CRJC has a separate staff person, the legal program coordinator, who can work with people who may be referred by court or other organizations for assistance that may not necessarily rise to the level of needing an attorney. The staff coordinator can assist with court paperwork, advice, lawyer referral and more.

The legal clinic is made possible because of a grant from the Vermont Bar Association. If you wish to get more information, call the CRJC at 802-748-2977. Additional information can be found at our website: www.communityrjc.org.

Neil Favreau is part of the CRJC staff.

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