Our mission is to provide a restorative justice option within the criminal justice system, wherein:
- Victims of crime are given the opportunity to address the people who have harmed them, ask questions in a safe environment, and help determine how the harm should be repaired.
- Offenders better understand the impact of their actions, are held meaningfully accountable, and are encouraged to make amends to those they have harmed.
- The community offers support for the process, strengthening community connections, and engaging in matters of concern to its members.
In the fall of 1997, two visionary community leaders in Concord, Massachusetts — Jean Bell and Joan Turner (pictured above, at left) — organized a community forum on restorative justice. When 230 interested people showed up, they knew they were onto something. But, how and where could a restorative justice program be housed, even if there were dozens of interested volunteers? A prominent partner emerged: Concord Police Chief Len Wetherbee (pictured above, at center). He asserted, “The undertaking is enormous … but we’re not going to let this drop.”
After diligent research and training, the Concord Police Department referred the first case in 2000. Neighboring Carlisle quickly expressed interest in the innovative response to crime. The two programs soon joined forces, giving rise to C4RJ and a formal board structure. With other towns intrigued with the restorative justice option, training began in earnest with residents from all over the region. Today, the volunteer force has exceeded 100.
The moral of this story: never underestimate the power of two.