A crime is transformed into an opportunity

When the paintball game that a young boy and his friends were playing got out of hand and resulted in damage to a neighbor’s classic car, the police were called. Fortunately, the court recommended diversion as an option to resolving the charges filed against the youth. The Volunteers of America DRC serving Skagit county stepped in to provide support for a resolution leading to an opportunity to build relationships between generations and neighbors.

A paintball game goes awry

Eric and his friends were playing paintball in Eric’s back yard. When they got bored shooting the targets they had set up in the yard, they began shooting over the fence into the neighbor’s property.

The neighbor, Paul, noticed the balls hurtling over the fence and exploding paint splats all over his painstakingly restored, 1955 classic car. Paul raced to the fence and yelled at the boys to stop. The boys dropped their paint guns and ran inside. Paul called the police who recorded the damage to the car. Charges were filed against Eric. It was his first juvenile court offense.

Volunteers of America DRC steps in to broker a solution

The DRC supports the Office of Juvenile Justice Diversion Program in two ways:

  1. The DRC works with juvenile offenders through the Victim Offender Impact Competency Education (VOICE) program, to help them see how their crime creates victims and impacts their community.

  2. The DRC also holds Victim Offender Meetings (VOMs) to allow face-to-face discussions between the parties involved.

The VOICE program was a perfect fit for Eric. DRC facilitators helped both Eric and Paul share their experience and listen to one another. After the discussion, Eric offered an apology. Together Eric and Paul crafted an agreement that satisfied both of them, as well as Eric’s parents who attended the meeting.

Mediation results in a new friendship

During the summer Eric agreed to work with Paul to repair the damage and repaint the car. Eric paid for the cost of the paint and supplies. In the process Eric learned new skills about classic car restoration and the benefits of collaboration. Perhaps best of all, he developed a lasting friendship with his neighbor.

Volunteers of America DRC can help you

The solution facilitated by the DRC allowed for a unique experience where a crime was transformed into an opportunity to build a relationship between neighbors. If you’re looking to resolve a situation with a neighbor, call the DRC at (360) 542-8487 or visit online at www.voaww.org/drc.

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Why DRC mediation?

DRCs reduce the burdens of the courts, saving taxpayers money, and increasing access to justice for traditionally underserved populations. In 2019 DRCs mediated 5,070 cases, successfully settling 64% of them. 90% of clients reported mediation improved their situation.

Annually DRCs appropriate over $2 million worth of volunteer hours, directly serve over 55,000 people, indirectly serve 200,000 people whose lives are positively affected by mediation and other services and reach out to over 7 million Washington residents.

© Resolution Washington | The member association for Dispute Resolution Centers (DRCs) in Washington State