Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Mail Staff Writer
Full Circle Restorative Justice, a nonprofit dedicated to reconciling the divide between criminal offenders and their victims, has received a $7,500 grant from the Anschutz Family Foundation and $2,025 from Sangre de Cristo Electric Association’s Round Up fund.
“The Anschutz Family Foundation is a well-established funder for nonprofits, and they gave us a challenge grant last year in which they would match $5,000 that we had to raise ourselves,” said Full Circle Executive Director Andrea Blocker.
The latest grant came with no requirement for the organization to raise funds. “This demonstrates their trust in our program and what we’re trying to accomplish,” said Blocker.
The recent Anschutz grant will go toward general operating expenses, and the money from Sangre de Cristo Electric will purchase a new laptop and software for the program as well as fund three “conferencing circles.”
The conferencing circles are the main component of the organization, said Patty La Taille, Full Circle program director.
The circle is an environment where an offender – most often a juvenile – can meet his or her victim and see the effects and harms they’ve caused, she said.
La Taille listed property crimes and bullying in school as prime issues the group deals with. “Any time a relationship is severed, we’re there to rebuild it,” she said.
Full Circle operates on five Rs: responsibility, respect, relationships, repair and reintegration.
Reintegration is a particularly important step, said La Taille. “If we don’t reintegrate the offender, they’ll feel alienated and their behavior could become worse. We want them to feel part of the community.”
A youth might be sent to Full Circle by the court, but ideally the organization gets to work with offenders before they enter the court system, said La Taille. “We create a safe space for dialogue, so that the offender and victim can share their perspectives. They usually end up working it out between themselves.”
It’s all the better if Full Circle can keep a youth from getting a criminal record, said La Taille. “Keeping them from paying court fees also increases the chances they’ll be able to pay restitution to repair any damages.”
Full Circle helps offenders pay restitution, even helping them find a job to come up with the money. “The bottom line is repairing the harm,” said La Taille.
“I consider it humanizing the justice system. Our success rate is pretty high, and it reduces the rate of recidivism.”
The recent grants are a step in the right direction, but by no means does it indicate that Full Circle is financially set, said Blocker.
She has also submitted applications for grants from Monarch Community Outreach, the Daniels Fund and the city of Salida, which will be crucial for Full Circle’s continued operations, she said. “We definitely need the support of the community.”