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 As a result, it frequently substitutes outdated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
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.
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
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:
of treatment and healing for persons who have been victimized
and persons who have caused harm
that support crime victims
that support returning prisoners
groups for victims and offenders to engage in constructive
to incarceration programs.
1. We will assist people in advocating for restorative justice.
Opportunities might include:
for funding for programs that will assist prisoners with
re-entry to the community
for programs that will enable victims and offenders to gain
psychological and spiritual health
for programs to improve housing and transitional opportunities
for those victimized and parolees
the State Bishops public policy positions on drug sentencing
laws and the death penalty