SPOTLIGHT ON RESTORATIVE JUSTICE
Every month we shine the spotlight on a specific initiative that the Moran Center has embarked upon to further advance our vision of creating a more just, racially equitable, and restorative society at the local, regional, and state level.
In November, we are pleased to focus on Restorative Justice. We have a multi-pronged plan for building a Restorative Community that weaves together a tightly knit system of programs, services, and policies and practices based upon the values and principles of restorative justice, beginning with the Roger Pascal Restorative Justice Initiative.
We celebrate our 40th year of championing transformative justice with the full weight, urgency, and tragedy of Covid 19 on our minds and in our hearts. The pandemic forced us to reflect on what it means to build community restoratively within a crisis that made visible so much injustice, and created profound isolation – while continuing our ongoing efforts and commitments to effect collaborative communal transformation.
A CONVERSATION WITH RESTORATIVE JUDGES
On November 22nd, the Moran Center hosted a virtual panel discussion entitled “A Conversation with Restorative Judges Who Are Reshaping Justice.” The panel featured four amazing Chicago-area judges – Judge Sophia H. Hall, Judge Martha A Mills (Retired), Judge Sheila M. Murphy (Retired), and Judge Patricia S. Pratt. In the panel discussion, the Judges described how they work and have worked with their communities to embed restorative philosophy and practice into their court practices, and shared their perspectives about the transformative power of restorative justice. Click here for biographies of the featured panelists. The panel was moderated by the Moran Center’s Restorative Justice Manager Pamela Cytrynbaum and Community Engagement Specialist Raymond Lackey.
You can see the panel discussion in its entirety below:
WHAT IT IS AND WHY IT MATTERS
Restorative Justice is a philosophy that is based on a set of principles that guide the response to conflict and harm; it is a critical part of building a Restorative Community. It reflects the reality that acts of wrongdoing do not just violate laws and rules but, more importantly, harm people, communities, and relationships. By providing a mechanism to identify and repair such harm, Restorative Justice builds relationships and empowers the community to take responsibility for the well-being of its members by using a wide range of facilitated, restorative conversations including peace circles, harm repair conferences, re-entry support circles, family conferences, incident-response circles, and community circles.
As we take a moment to breathe in, looking back on all we’ve accomplished; and to breathe out, facing all the hard work still before us; we are grateful and so very proud to report that the Moran Center’s restorative efforts have innovated, grown and thrived in ways we could never have imagined.
Click the arrows on the slideshow below to learn about some of our key accomplishments:
ONGOING COMMUNITY BUILDING AND RESTORATIVE TRAINING CIRCLES
Circle Up: Building a Restorative Community
The Moran Center was thrilled to receive a $30,000 Healing Illinois Grant from The Chicago Community Trust/Illinois Department of Human Services. Our project, Circle Up: Building a Restorative Community, offered restorative practices training to BIPOC emerging adults and elders in Evanston.
Circle Up: Building a Restorative Community Project, successfully positioned BIPOC emerging adults and elders to lead restorative circles, fostering the ideals of a radically welcoming, reparative, and antiracist community. The Moran Center trained and held restorative spaces for a total of 108 community members, hosting 27 separate restorative events. This effort also included our new collaborative effort with Youth Job Center, Curt’s Cafe, and the City of Evanston’s Youth & Young Adult Division – CEO: Plugged In Program – a pilot program in which disinvested emerging adults were compensated for participating in twice-weekly circle training as part of an innovative, collaborative workforce training program.
Click the arrows on the slideshow below to learn about some additional programs that were inspired by the Circle Up project:
Evanston’s Restorative Justice Community “Court”
Serving as an alternative to the (in)justice system, Cook County established the North Lawndale Restorative Justice Community Court (“RJCC”) in 2017 to adjudicate nonviolent offenses involving emerging adults, offering “offenders” the opportunity to admit wrongdoing and develop “Repair of Harm Agreements.” After achieving repair, the State dismisses the charges and the Court expunges the records. Seeing the RJCC model as a transformative tool in building a more just and racially equitable community, the Moran Center started laying the foundation for Evanston’s RJCC in 2018.
Recognizing the significance of developing a restorative web of social services for emerging adults as an initial step to establishing an effective local RJCC, the Moran Center partnered with eight other youth-serving agencies to form the Evanston Collective in November 2018. In the spirit of “nothing for us without us”, the Collective recruited former clients to hold conversations with young peers and caregivers, as well as front-line providers, about service gaps and system barriers. Using the survey data, the Collective adopted a shared agenda for local systems change and a vision for building a more responsive safety net. Central to that vision was the establishment of Evanston’s juvenile administrative hearing process – an alternative to arrest for children under the age of 18 stopped for low-level offenses in Evanston. Since July 2019, youth are now cited and referred to Evanston’s juvenile administrative hearing process where they develop a “Repair of Harm Agreement” in lieu of fines. The Collective partners with the City in supporting children to achieve their individualized, restorative goals.
Building from the strategy employed in forming the Collective and the lessons learned from rolling out Evanston’s juvenile administrative hearing process, the Moran Center has recently convened a Working Group of Evanston community members including former Moran Center clients, restorative practitioners, 27 incarcerated students in Northwestern University’s Prison Education Program (NPEP) along with their instructor, a law professor who teaches Restorative Justice in the Center on Negotiation and Mediation at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law and her students, to explore with our community regarding the possibility of establishing Evanston’s RJCC and/or other local systems of accountability. We firmly believe that by creating an off-ramp for emerging adults (18-26-year-olds) for higher-level offenses from the criminal (in)justice system, we will take a critical step towards building a more just and racially equitable community.
The Moran Center’s proposal to establish “Evanston’s Restorative Justice Community Court” was recently granted $45,500 by Northwestern University’s Racial Equity and Community Partnership Grant Program!