Home » Proposed Neighborhood Resolution: Restorative Justice Program

Proposed Neighborhood Resolution: Restorative Justice Program

Below you see information concerning a resolution for the Steering Committee of the Eastside Hill Neighborhood Association to endorse and utilize the Restorative Justice Program as a form of community building that adds to our neighborhood’s quality of life.

>> Submitted by Mark Ruddy, this resolution will be discussed by the Steering Committee at the monthly meeting on November 16, 2017 (6:30pm at the Eau Claire School of Music, 1620 Ohm Avenue). Please attend if you care to lend comments.

Macro Context of this Resolution

  1. The United States has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world.
  2. Our state of Wisconsin has the highest incarceration rates for Black Americans and Native Americans. We spend more on our Department of Corrections than on our entire system of higher education.
  3. Eau Claire County’s jail has a disproportionate population of minorities.
  4. Both our state and county are seeing increased pressure to add more jail cells.
  5. The “mass incarceration crisis” in this country is a result of structural racism (see The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander).
  6. 95% of citizens incarcerated are eventually released to our communities whether they are rehabilitated or not.
  7. It is important on all levels of our society to seek a reduction in the rate of incarceration; RJ has the potential to help in this effort.

How Restorative Justice Could Function in our Neighborhood

  1. The summer of 2017 has been perceived as having more bad behavior and criminal activity than in the past, even though our Neighborhood police say this is not true.
  2. Crime and pre-criminal behaviors damage relationships in our community. To respond in a positive way that builds bridges instead of walls, it behooves us to find creative ways to repair the damages. The overall goal of Restorative Justice is to have all affected feel more connected to community by asserting common values such as compassion, equity, accountability, and an acknowledgement that each of us has an intrinsic worth that can never be taken away.
  3. According to our By-Laws, the purpose of our organization “is to preserve and enhance the quality of life in the area by responding to issues, concerns and opportunities that affect the area included in the Eastside Hill Neighborhood. In its activities, the Association will maintain a careful respect for the rights and prerogatives of the Eastside Hill residents, and an appreciation for individual differences”.
  4. Restorative Justice is a community based program that has been proven to lower bad behaviors while strengthening the quality of life for the community in a holistic way. Restorative Justice can safely bring together the victim, the offender and the community to talk about the bad behavior or crime, structure a way to repair the harm, and offer significant healing to all parties. Forgiveness is not required but is often an end result.
  5. Restorative Justice is a joint venture between Eau Claire County and Goodwill Industries and is a valued part of our local Criminal Justice system.
  6. The conventional Criminal Justice process is focused on retribution, not rehabilitation; it is adversarial in nature. Esoteric court processes often leave the victim without information/understanding and no control of the outcome. Injuries have a ripple effect on all of the victim’s relationships, including with the community. The courts see the crime as one against the state, rather than against the local victim or a harmed community.
  7. Offenders can be taught accountability, better decision-making skills and be provided opportunities for making amends. There is an emphasis is on direct offender accountability. To be a part of the RJ process an offender must be ready to make a contrite apology.
  8. An offender who is open to Restorative Justice is not taking the “easy way out”; to acknowledge their injury to people and find ways to make amends is a challenging active approach versus being passive.
  9. Restorative Justice can be used in the Criminal Justice system at various times in its process: as a diversion before a charge is filed; can be taken into account at any time by the Judge, the City Attorney and offender’s Attorney; and adjudication, after the court has run its course.
  10. Offenders who meet their victims are less likely to re-offend (making us safer), more likely to meet their repair obligations, and are more apt to experience meaningful accountability.
  11. Restorative Justice grabs a teachable moment and helps us evolve into a healthier Community.
  12. Offenders may be assigned community service hours by the court within our area that can benefit our physical environment and thus help our Neighborhood heal.
  13. Restorative Justice allows all participants to see each other as unique valued individuals rather than as a stereotype or label. As a result, the negative behavior is highlighted versus the offender being called a bad person. Offenders often have traumas and other limiting life events that make their actions more understandable; dialogue around this can lead to access to treatment for the offender.
  14. The Restorative Justice process can aid its participants in re-ordering their lives, moving forward, going beyond pain and loss, and reintegrating into the community.
  15. To be an authentic community we must be willing to take risks that expand our openness to “the other”. Courage is as simple as taking a single step beyond our comfort zone.
  16. Restorative Justice can also be used by a group wanting to get help to resolve a Neighborhood conflict.
  17. To initiate the RJ process two contacts should be made as soon as possible: contact the staff at Restorative Justice at 715 835-6521 and also contact the county staff at the Witness Victim Program at 715 839-4795. Together they will inform the authorities that this request has been made. Then the legal system decides if a RJ component is appropriate in a specific case.

Proposed Resolution

Be it Resolved that the Steering Committee of our Eastside Hill Neighborhood Association strongly encourages using the Restorative Justice program for conflicts in our area, be they problem behaviors or crime. This Resolution recommends that our Neighbors use Restorative Justice as a foundational response to conflict and ask to use this program whenever the local justice system is open to this approach.  The Steering Committee and all of our Neighbors can be alert to situations that could benefit from a referral to Restorative Justice. Annually, the Steering Committee will seek documentation from Restorative Justice to determine how often they have done reconciliation work in our Neighborhood.