SALIDA - Full Circle Restorative Justice (FCRJ) is making some exciting changes in order to better serve Chaffee County and the 11th Judicial District. One change is the recent hire of a new executive director, Kimberly Parker. Parker joined FCRJ as executive director (ED) in February. Most recently, Parker was Housing Coordinator and Victim Advocate with The Alliance and a candidate for Chaffee County Commissioner in 2018. With her strong background in leadership, facilitation, advocacy, strategic planning and technology, Parker comes to FCRJ at an important time when the demand for restorative justice and alternative dispute resolution services in our community is increasing.
“At its core, restorative practices are about connection and community - and there is a continuum from proactive to reactive practices. Restorative practices for youth in schools create more safety, less bullying and more inclusion, which in turn has positive effects on learning and comprehension,” stated Parker. “When it comes to the criminal justice system, FCRJ supports important dialogue between victims and offenders, at the request of victims, who would otherwise not have this option as a part of resolving and healing from the incident.”
Other important changes within FCRJ include new board leadership, including the addition of a youth board leader. “We are committed to developing youth leaders as a part of our mission in this community”, shared newly-elected Board Chair, Ken Matthews. “Electing high school senior Bowman Russell as Vice Chair is an action toward that commitment.” The 9-person board of directors also includes Talmage Trujillo, Secretary, JD Longwell, Treasurer, Magdalena Rosa, Scotty Hughes, Lynn Lee, Zech Papp and Forrest Whitman.
“At the heart of FCRJ is our powerhouse of dedicated volunteers,” said Patty LaTaille, Program Director. “We could not provide all of the programs and services FCRJ offers without our trained and deeply committed community members.” The Victim-Offender Dialogues (VOD), Restorative Circles, Peer Mediation and NonViolent Communication school programs, along with the Insight Prison Program in the Buena Vista Correctional Facility, are all volunteer-based positive conflict resolution and restorative practices available to the community.
LaTaille recently published an innovative book on the inter-collaboration of the human and animal species in peacebuilding titled “Paws for Peace: Enhancing Restorative Practices with Therapy Dogs”. Now VOD and Circle participants, along with school students and teachers, have the option of a therapy dog and handler team during Circles, trainings and important meetings.
Established in 2006, FCRJ fills a vital need in our community by offering alternatives and diversion from the criminal justice system to both youth and adults in Chaffee County. It receives cases from the courts, schools and businesses throughout Chaffee County and surrounding counties. Restorative Justice (RJ) has proved its effectiveness as evidenced by lower recidivism rates and high victim satisfaction. RJ is also a popular and requested positive conflict resolution strategy for school-bases disciplinary cases.
Are you interested in participating in a restorative justice circle as a community member? Would you like to know more about becoming a trained restorative justice facilitator? FCRJ always welcomes volunteers and is happy to answer your questions and encourage community involvement. For more information, contact Kimberly Parker at 719-530-5597 or firstname.lastname@example.org.