Editor's Note: In the print edition of this piece, it stated that the Springfield Department of Justice will host a community forum, when in fact it meant to say that the Springfield Department of Restorative Justice (SDRJ) will be the ones to host the event. Furthermore, the piece also stated that Joe Sampsell was the district manager for the Department of Corrections in Springfield, when in fact Joe Sampsell is the community corrections district manager for the Department of Corrections' Springfield Probation and Parole. A correction will be issued in the Wednesday edition of the Eagle Times.
SPRINGFIELD, Vt. — The Springfield Department of Restorative Justice (SDRJ) will host a community forum for recidivism prevention education and call for volunteers with a viewing of Bess O’Brien’s 14 award-winning independent film “Coming Home.”
Frank Nobile, the head of the Springfield Department of Restorative Justice, will be leading the forum on Wednesday that explains the need for volunteers to mentor criminal offenders post incarceration through the program Circles of Accountability and Support (CoSA).
“My goal is to get people interested in volunteering in the CoSA group. We really want a diverse section of people from society who are willing to volunteer,” said Nobile.
Nobile said he just wants people to help others come back into the community.
“People don’t need any qualifications,” said Nobile, explaining that the SDRJ just needs people who are willing to mentor offenders and help them rejoin society. “State wide, it’s been going for three years. What it is about stopping crimes.”
In an interview with the Eagle Times Monday, Nobile noted that people are more likely to commit crimes when they are rejected by the community, as the rejection he said limits their options as productive members of society which is part of the cycle of repeat offenders.
The benefit is not just for the core member who is being a mentor but for the community.
“The town has a prison and because of that criteria people are released and coming into the town,” Nobile said. “We want to prevent crime and victims. No more victims is what we want.”
The only way for this to happen is for the community to embrace the issue and work with former inmates as support systems and also as friends who hold each core member accountable, according to Nobile. Core members ask for help and after building relationships they have incentives to maintain those connections, which heals the person and the community at large.
“People who are rejoining the community are part of the community,” said Nobile.
Nobile said his volunteers take the problem head on and offer support a probation officer cannot offer.
Joe Sampsell, community corrections district manager for Springfield Probation and Parole, in Springfield, said CoSA volunteers offer support for offenders and fill a need that others are not able to fill because of resources, time and simply because their job doesn’t allow for it.
“The volunteers help offenders prioritize, make a shopping list, set goal and support we are not able to do for various reasons,” Sampsell said.
According to Sampsell, who is eligible or appropriate for CoSA is outlined to reduce crime and support core members who have at risk behavior or antisocial behaviors that require additional community support to create a reset button of positive support which fosters core members to maintain their rehabilitation.
Sampsell said they have a defined target population.
According to their outline, eligible applicants have certain reasons why they reoffend, stating that they “present a moderate to high risk to reoffend either sexually or violently based present a moderate to high need for pro-social supports and be within approximately one year of release.”
“Priority will be given to those offenders who are treatment-compliant while incarcerated,” according to the outline in order for offenders to work with CoSA volunteers.
“In other words, while we prioritize sexual offenders, CoSAs are not reserved exclusively for them. We are concerned with anyone with a history of serious offense(s) whose present lack of pro-social supports upon release may, in the view of Springfield Probation and Parole, place them at an elevated likelihood to reoffend,” said Sampsell.
Nobile said volunteers are anonymous and the meeting is open to anyone who is interested in recidivism prevention and education.
“People will learn more about what community is in another different way,” he said.
The forum and movie viewing is open to the public and will be held at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at the Springfield Town Library.