Friday, January 12, 2007
Restorative Justice group gets new grant
A grant of $6,000 has been given to Communities for Restorative Justice (C4RJ) to help synchronize Carlisle police practices with C4RJ policies and procedures. The Restorative Justice program helps young offenders by offering an alternative to the judicial system and supporting them in making positive change at the same time as it helps their victims heal.
The program started in Concord in 1999 and expanded to Carlisle in 2001. Last summer the Concord and Carlisle restorative justice circles merged to become C4RJ, Communities for Restorative Justice. C4RJ is funded through grants, donations and community appeals. It is a volunteer organization, which has expanded to include an 11-member advisory board and a part-time executive director, Betsy Maloney. During its seven years of operation, the program has conducted restorative justice circles in both Concord and Carlisle.
A circle is created for each police case in which the victim agreed to participate and the youth accepted responsibility and elected to participate in an out-of-court resolution of the problem with the assistance of C4RJ. It includes the offender(s), the victim(s), parents, law enforcement officials, trained volunteers and other related persons; it agrees on restitution or whatever measures are determined appropriate; and it meets upon completion of these acts to see that all parties are satisfied. There is no court record of the case once the youth completes the restitution agreement.
Residents and students participate in C4RJ program
Community volunteers are the backbone of the C4RJ circles. Carlisle residents Christy Barbee and Barbara Howland are board members; Police Chief John Sullivan may be its most enthusiastic supporter. CCHS students Elizabeth Karafotias ('08), Grant McCandless, ('09), and Jesse Pearlman, ('09), joined adult residents Fran Souza-Spayne and Dave Watson at the November training group and will work with the 60 seasoned volunteers from Concord and Carlisle in future restorative justice circles. Board member Barbara Howland says there have been 23 cases from Carlisle so far, and that translates to at least 23 juveniles who have had the experience of accepting respon-sibility for their actions and working out a positive alternative to a court record and a court sentence.
The recent $6,000 grant came from the Northwest Suburban Community Health Network Area 15, which supports 12 communities from Littleton/Boxboro to Wilmington/Woburn/Winchester. One product of the grant will be a document explaining the two options for young offenders, that is, the traditional legal system or participation in the restorative justice model. As its record of successful circles grows, the demand for C4RJ circles grows too, as does the need for volunteers. Barbara Howland, who furnished information for this article, says residents who want to learn more about the program or wish to volunteer may contact Executive Director Betsy Maloney at 1-978-318-3447 at her office at the Concord Police Station, or send a message by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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