Commission on Restorative Justice
   
Working Priorities


Background

The Commission on Restorative Justice recognizes that our criminal justice system can often be nothing more than a punitive, blame-placing institution. As a result, it frequently substitutes outdated models of punishment for genuine offender accountability. Often the system fails the person who was directly harmed and does little for the person who offended. In this process, little is done to repair the delicate fabric of community which has been affected by criminal and anti-social events.

Often the adversarial system leaves additional human loss: family members and friends (of both offenders and victims) need more than what they usually receive. Offenders are not able to take responsibility for their actions and community members lose faith in the criminal justice system.

The Restorative Justice Commission believes that our communities must implement more lasting, more meaningful and more healing responses to wrongdoing. We also recognize that there are many ways to ameliorate the harsh and unfair conditions of the current criminal justice system. For now, the Commission will focus on transformative education and action.


Goals

The Commission seeks to educate about restorative justice in a wide variety of situations and in collaboration with others who share our values.

  • Our primary goal is to educate the people of our 14-county diocese in the techniques of restorative justice.
     

  • Our secondary goal is to support already existing programs which demonstrate restorative justice in action.


Educational Priorities And Tasks

1. We will develop a Restorative Justice Speakers Bureau to educate parishes, schools and communities about the theory and techniques of restorative justice.

2. We will train all Commission members in the use of restorative justice techniques. We will also train trainers.

3. We will publish a regular column on restorative justice in The Evangelist.

4. We will provide educational material about restorative justice.

5. We will provide parishes with prepared texts which can be included in parish bulletins and prayers which can be used in worship.

6. We will assist people in developing ministry programs. Opportunities for direct service might include the following:

  • Programs of treatment and healing for persons who have been victimized
    and persons who have caused harm

  • Programs that support crime victims

  • Programs that support returning prisoners

  • Furniture redistribution programs

  • Parish-based groups for victims and offenders to engage in constructive dialogue

  • Alternatives to incarceration programs.
Advocacy

1. We will assist people in advocating for restorative justice.
    Opportunities might include:

  • Advocating for funding for programs that will assist prisoners with re-entry to the  community

  • Advocating for programs that will enable victims and offenders to gain better psychological and spiritual health

  • Advocating for programs to improve housing and transitional opportunities for those victimized and parolees

  • Supporting the State Bishops public policy positions on drug sentencing laws and the  death penalty