Volunteers are needed to participate in the restorative justice system, to keep offenders from serving prison time, and create opportunities to make restitution with the victims of their crime.
C4RJ, Communities for Restorative Justice, in Middlesex County, is directed by Erin Freeborn. Arlington Police Chief Fred Ryan is a primary advocate and practitioner of restorative justice. Learn more from these experts at the following events and websites.
1. Arlington Human Rights Commission’s “Understanding Restorative Justice” event with Arlington’s Police Chief Fred Ryan and Erin Freeborn, the Executive Director of Communities for Restorative Justice (C4RJ), on Saturday, October 13, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the Arlington Senior Center (27 Maple Street). Here’s the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/296326214528836/.
C4RJ led the restorative justice process with the individual who defaced my congregation’s Black Lives Matter banner and, more recently, with 14 youths who covered the Arlington High School with offensive graffiti. Last year they handled cases from 17 different communities and put out a new “Restorative Practices Guide for Schools” (www.c4rj.org).
2. The Center for Restorative Justice at Suffolk University is offering three training events for people who want to use restorative practices professionally. These events are limited to 25 people each, and preregistration is required, and there are a few vacancies in each:
Tier 1: Circle Training and Introduction to Restorative Practices for Educators (Oct. 19-20): https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tier-1-circle-training-and-introduction-to-restorative-practices-for-educators-tickets-49706640901
Tier 2: Restorative Mindset and Restorative Classroom Management (Nov. 16-17): https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tier-2-restorative-mindset-and-restorative-classroom-management-tickets-49707875594
Tier 3: Restorative Conferencing for Discipline (Dec. 7-8): https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tier-3-restorative-conferencing-for-discipline-tickets-49708258740
Restorative justice focuses on helping people understand the harm they have done, take responsibility for their actions, and help meet the needs identified by the people they have hurt. It is important for reducing mass incarceration and the number of people who are burdened with a criminal record, and a helpful approach to school discipline to avoid the school-to-prison pipeline.
Restorative justice often has much better outcomes for everyone than more punitive approaches. It has a high satisfaction rate among participants (98 percent in C4RJ’s circles last year), but when something happens, people are unlikely to choose restorative justice unless they’ve heard about it already.
Please attend on Oct. 13 for a general introduction to restorative justice, and share these invitations with anyone who might be in a position to use restorative justice in their life or work.
–Lori Kenshaft, EMIT Core member, leader of End Mass Incarceration Working Group of First Parish Unitarian Universalist in Arlington.