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Helping victims recover mentally and financially - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Helping victims recover mentally and financially

February 19, 2011 - Burlington, Vermont

Burlington is the only city in the country with a program that focuses on crime victims -- by helping them recover their losses. Parallel Justice is in its fifth year now. Andy Potter gives us this update on how the program is doing.

Jessica Atwood and her daughter browsed through a used clothing sale at Burlington city hall. The proceeds will help pay for a program begun here five years ago -- called Parallel Justice.

Rain Banbury, Parallel Justice Specialist told us, "Parallel Justice in Burlington is still very unique... our hope of course is that this becomes the standard for the rest of the country. There are some communities in Vermont that are looking into implementing Parallel Justice."

Parallel Justice gets federal grant money through the Community and Economic Development office. But the actual cash awards for crime victims come from private fund raising, like this clothing swap. The program was designed to help crime victims recovered their losses -- not only financially but psychologically. Vermont's crime rate may rank among the lowest in the country, and some offenses may seem negligible. Still, many crime victims feel vulnerable when it seems that the criminals get all the attention.

"We're really fortunate in Burlington that we have a really low crime rate. But the kind of crimes where nobody is ever caught or a perpetrator is never identified -- or sometimes people just aren't comfortable going to the police, Parallel Justice ed is able to help." Said Banbury.

People familiar with the program say it can be especially helpful among Burlington's sizable non-English speaking immigrant population. And help them get back on their feet.

Andy Potter WCAX News

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