Is Your Community Ready?
In recent years, the concept of restorative justice has taken root in this region. Victims are asking to be better served in the wake of crime. Offenders are looking for constructive ways to make amends. Communities are asking for innovative approaches to crime and wrongdoing. Criminal justice agencies want an additional tool. C4RJ can help with all of these needs, even offering cost savings. Restorative justice costs communities approximately six times less than criminal prosecution or repeat crimes. So, for every $1 invested in C4RJ, communities and society save about $6.
There are many aspects to consider. What are some indications that a community may be ready to consider offering a restorative justice option? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Have you sensed openness in the police department or local court system to new approaches?
- Do you know of a core group of committed people who could help explore the viability of a restorative justice approach?
- Are there sources of financial support within your community (family foundations, faith groups, philanthropic individuals or businesses, a United Way, or other agencies) that would help back the work?
- What are the allied organizations in your community with whom a restorative justice effort might partner?
- Are there service site locations in your community that might be open to placement of offenders who wish to make repair?
If you would like to speak more about opportunities in your town, contact us.
Help Get the Word Out
C4RJ began in 2000 when two women in the community cared passionately about offering another option to people affected by crime. From those founders, C4RJ now engages more than 100 volunteers from 38 cities and towns who serve in many roles and with varying time commitments. Some enjoy working directly on cases. Others prefer to engage on committee work or with ad hoc efforts. Here are a few suggestions depending on your level of interest:
- Tell your friends and neighbors about C4RJ. Mention it at the work water-cooler, at a cocktail party, or a holiday gathering. Highlight that restorative justice is “a constructive way to respond to crime” that can “hold offenders accountable directly to those they’ve harmed,” that “serves victims who are often marginalized in a criminal justice process,” and that “involves community members in meaningful ways.” We are eager to raise awareness in the community and there’s nothing more powerful — or underestimated — than word of mouth.
- Host a movie night with a justice/restorative justice theme at your home. One suggestion: Take, starring Minnie Driver. Contact C4RJ if you’d like some discussion questions or if you’d like to distribute information about restorative justice in the region.
- Organize a symposium event on the theme of restorative justice in your neighborhood, place of work or worship and invite a C4RJ representative to speak.
- If you are the unfortunate victim of a crime, ask your local police department for a restorative justice referral. Even if the department is not currently partnering with C4RJ, it’s likely that they’ll want to learn more and may do some research to make it happen.
- Write letters to the editor expressing interest in/support for the program. Letters to the editor are among the most widely read sections of the newspaper.
- Write letters to your local/state representative appealing for an increase in restorative justice options for those affected by crime.
- Contact us if you have suggestions on venues to speak about restorative justice in your community (parent-teacher groups, neighborhood associations, philanthropic efforts, faith groups).
- Contact us with suggestions on possible sources of fundraising in your community (individual donors, social action committees, businesses with philanthropic leanings, family foundations).
- Consider making a tax-deductible donation by clicking here.