CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – Centre County residents that might find themselves in the middle of a dispute, now have a new avenue to travel down when trying to reach a peaceful and mutual resolution.
Centre County Community Conferencing is a new restorative justice initiative that just launched this month.
The free, voluntary process offers three distinct programs: Neighborhood Disputes, Court Diversion and Re-entry.
Program Coordinator Caryn Blanchard says their goal is to provide a space where conflict can turn into cooperation by bringing participants in conflict together in one room.
“It differs from going through the court system in that everyone who’s in that conference gets the opportunity to be heard and they can speak about what happened to them and how it affected them,” said Blanchard.
And to create an even playing field, Blanchard says a trained neutral facilitator is present during the conference.
“We just trained 12 diverse members of our community and they look like people in our community. So we have folks who represent different ethnicities and different socio-economic groups, different academic levels and what we’re going to do, is plug them into the conferences where they fit to make everyone feel comfortable,” said Blanchard.
According to Blanchard once a referral is submitted, they’ll attempt to connect with conference participants within 48 hours.
Individuals looking to send in a referral can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 814-810-7196.
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