The Loudoun County Restorative Justice Program is heading into its 16th year of operation with a successful record, county officials said in a statement.
Restorative Justice is a component of the Juvenile Court Diversion Program and is designed to divert juvenile offenders from going to court. The program is an alternative to traditional court proceedings that gives offenders an opportunity to address the harm that they have done to their victims and to the community. It aims to help offenders avoid future criminal conduct and a permanent criminal record.
A key part of the program is a conference between young offenders and their victims, said Lance Kelley, the probation officer who oversees the conferences.
“Victims take an active role in the process, while offenders are held responsible for their actions and try to repair the harm they’ve done by apologizing, returning stolen money or performing community service,” Kelley said in the statement.
Kelley said that the Restorative Justice program has achieved success in key areas in the past 15 years and that victims have reported a high level of satisfaction with the process. More than 1,500 successful conferences have been held; more than 35,000 hours of community service has been ordered and completed, at an estimated savings to the county of more than $735,000 ; and more than $50,000 in restitution has been ordered and paid, officials said.
Loudoun’s Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court Service Unit was the first in Virginia to have an in-house Restorative Justice Program, the statement said.
Information about the program is at www.loudoun.gov/restorativejustice.
Volunteers of all ages are invited to help plant 75 trees in Ida Lee Park in Leesburg at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Loudoun County, Leesburg and the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy are hosting the event. Volunteers, who are asked to take shovels and gloves, will meet in the parking area below the A.V. Symington Aquatic Center.
The trees will be planted along Big Spring Creek, where they will improve water quality by filtering storm water runoff before it reaches the creek. Such stream buffers can improve water quality by removing sediment and contaminants, lowering stream temperatures and preventing bank erosion.
For information, call Scott Sandberg of the Loudoun County Department of Building and Development at 571-258-3304.
The tour season has begun at the Loudoun County Solid Waste Management Facility, a popular site for tour groups, county officials said in a statement. This year’s season began with a visit from members of Cub Scout Pack 905, dens 2 and 9, from Potomac Falls.
Scout and student groups tour the facility to see how garbage is disposed of and to observe waste disposal operations, which include large tractors that smash trash, county officials said. They also learn about the importance of recycling and how recyclable materials are processed into everyday products.
Tours are offered from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays. Tour dates are now available in May through November.
Information about the landfill is at www.loudoun.gov/landfill. To arrange a tour, call 703-777-0187.
— Compiled by Caitlin Gibson