Parallel Justice For Victims of Crime

Parallel Justice For Victims of Crime

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The history of Parallel Justice in Burlington

The Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services was chosen by the National Center for Victims of Crime in 2004, along with two other pilot sites in Redlands, California and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to put Parallel Justice principles into practice.

This concept originated with Susan Herman, Former Executive Director of the National Center for Victims of Crime and challenges our current need to address the short and long-term needs of victims regardless of whether the offender is caught or prosecuted. In keeping with Susan’s vision, the project works to; “Instead of asking victims to seek justice solely through the criminal justice process, ask[ing] victims to define the problems they face—and then, do[ing their] best to address them.”

The Center began working in Vermont with top-level representatives from both the private and public sectors to create a vision and define the implementation of the Parallel Justice in Burlington. At that time, partners began exploring:

  1. Avenues for improving governmental services and entitlements
  2. A way to mobilize the community through public education
  3. To create a process for victims to speak about the impact of crime and address systemic barriers they face and
  4. To develop coordinated services for victims of crime in Burlington, Vermont. 

In July of 2006, Parallel Justice for Victims of Crime in Burlington was launched as the national demonstration project embodying this new concept of victim support.  It was created through the collaborative efforts of the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services, the Burlington Community Justice Center, and the Burlington Police Department. 

Today, two Parallel Justice Specialists, one placed at the Community Justice Center and one at the Burlington Police Department along with volunteers from the community and inters from St. Michael's Collegeand the University of Vermont, connect with victims of crime through reports to the police, referrals from victim service agencies, community businesses or crime victims themselves.

Over the past four years the project has provided direct assistance to over 1,000 people with a variety of needs, from repairing locks and broken windows to addressing medical, dental and mental health care.  The project has enrolled more than 50 local businesses to assist with supporting victims of crime through donations, discounts, and flexible billing.  With these exciting successes, Parallel Justice is now an established response to victims after crime.

Susan Herman, now an Associate Professor at PACE University, remains a partner and consultant for the Vermont demonstration site. Her book Parallel Justice for Victims of Crime was published in January, 2010 and is available through