night, a bunch of punks armed with a car, a baseball bat and poop for
brains decided to go mailbox smashing. They drove down a street in one
of Vermontâ€™s lovely neighborhoods and took out all the mailboxes as
they cruised. Such a blast.
According to David Karp, a sociology
professor at Skidmore College who was an evaluator of Vermontâ€™s
juvenile justice program, this midnight wilding â€œwas the sort of thing
that might be thought of as a bad juvenile prank. But for one old woman
who came out and found her mailbox smashed, it was a lot more. That
particular day was the first anniversary of her husbandâ€™s passing. He
had a workshop and was a craftsman, and this hand-made mailbox was the
last thing heâ€™d made for her. So she was quite upset.â€
were caught and sent as a group to their community restorative panel.
Trained community volunteers listened to each of them tell their
version of the story, admitting to what theyâ€™d done. But the justice
system in Vermont strongly urges crime victims to come to the panel
meeting to describe their experience. The old lady came and gave rich,
personal meaning to a mailbox that had just been a plaything to the
boys whoâ€™d wrecked it.
Karp said, â€œThe panel meeting between the
offenders and victim was very tearful. The primary impact was the boysâ€™
understanding of what theyâ€™d done to the victims.â€
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