Victim Impact Panels
Victim Impact Panels are restorative justice panels operated through the courts in Clarke County, Georgia. The goal of these panels is to prevent persons who were convicted of drunk driving from committing similar offenses in the future. Participating offenders are required to attend panels where they listen to DUI victims share their stories. In these panels, four or five victims each give a 10-to-15-minute presentation about how their lives were affected by a drunk driving incident. Failure to attend a sessions is equal to a probation violation and can result in a new court appearance and possible jail time.
Assessment: After 5 years, 15.8% of the offenders who participated in Victim Impact Panels were rearrested, as compared to 33.5% of the nonparticipating offenders. Victim Impact Panels had a particularly powerful effect on lowering recidivism during the first two years. Rojek, Coverdill & Fors, The Effect Of Victim Impact Panels on DUI Rearrest Rates: A Five- Year follow-Up, Criminology 14:1319, 1319-1340 (2003).
Midtown Community Court
The Midtown Community Court targets quality-of-life offenses like prostitution, vandalism, and illegal vending. In traditional courts, judges typically either sentence offenders who commit this type of crime to a few days of jail time or to no incarceration. The minimal sentences are often seen as inadequate by victims or the community and do not convince defendants that these offenses are being taken seriously. By contrast, the Midtown Community Court sentences low level offenders to community service while helping them address the problems underlying their criminal behavior. The Court partners with local residents and agencies to provide social services and organize community service projects such as drug treatment, mental health counseling, and job training.
Assessment: Eighty seven percent of defendants at Midtown completed their community service mandates in 2009, compared to around 50% of the defendants processed at the criminal court. That year, Midtown defendants put in over 18,000 hours of community service, the equivalent of over $140,000 of labor. Additionally, in 2009, Times Square Ink, Midtown’s on-site job training program, enrolled 248 participants and placed 57 persons in jobs. Center for Court Innovation, Midtown Community Court: Documented Results.
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