2008 Governor's Criminal Justice Volunteer Service Award
Jim Buffington, "Carol S. Vance" Volunteer of the Year
In 1976, when he was only 12 year old, Jim Buffington's mother was found slain in the back seat of her car. The devastation to the family was indescribable. A year later, while still working through his grief, he was dealt another blow. His father was arrested and incarcerated for the conspiracy of his mother's murder. Jim was to suffer yet another betrayal later in life when he discovered that the original murder conspiracy included his brother and himself.
Through this incredible journey, Jim has experienced both sides of the criminal justice system - as a child of a victim of crime and as a child of an offender. Jim journeyed a long road of pain and betrayal that would lead most to a life withdrawn and full of bitterness. Jim chose another path however, one of healing and forgiveness. In his volunteer work, he has helped many victims of crime, as well as offenders, down that path to healing and forgiveness. Because of his unique experiences, he has an insight into the feelings of the offenders' families that most of us cannot relate to. Jim is able to connect with the offenders and he helps them to better understand the effects their choices have had on their families and society.
Jim's incredible strength has been an inspiration to other volunteers and his contagious enthusiasm has changed many hearts. Jim has been a faithful volunteer with Bridges to Life, a program that focuses on the restoration of offenders, putting a face on crime and God's forgiveness. Jim continues to donate his time to victim impact panels for Victim Services, Dallas County Probation, Lillian Smith Family Violence Foundation, Texas Youth Commission and the Dallas County Juvenile Justice Department. It is because Jim Buffington has given so much of himself promoting restorative justice that he has been selected as the recipient for the Carol S. Vance Volunteer of the Year Award for 2007.