As October is designated Conflict Resolution Month and there is such a need these days for tools to deal effectively with disputes and disagreements, it’s timely to remind readers of a valuable local resource whose mission is to promote peace and community justice through dialogue and conflict resolution.
Full Circle Restorative Justice (FCRJ) has served Chaffee and surrounding counties since 2006. We are a volunteer-driven organization, based in Salida, that provides an alternative to the traditional justice system by facilitating conferences that hold offenders accountable for their actions and provide victims a voice in how to heal the harm they’ve experienced.
Our processes include trained facilitators, community members who share a passion for peaceful conflict resolution and therapy dogs that provide comfort to both victims and offenders.
Although we have a strong orientation toward youth offenders, we also handle adult cases that are referred to us by the district, county and municipal courts. Schools and businesses can and do refer incidents directly to FCRJ.
And statistics demonstrate that our processes are effective. While youth recidivism rates are in the 75-80 percent range in the traditional justice system, those rates drop to 10-30 percent when restorative practices are employed.
It’s important to note that restorative justice doesn’t mean “soft” justice. Offenders are held accountable for their actions through contracts that are developed in the RJ circles with input by all participants. FCRJ staff then works with the offender and monitors their progress throughout the term of the contact, which on average is around three months.
If the terms of the contract are met, then the case is closed with no criminal record or additional consequences. If the contract is not completed, then the case is sent back to the referring source.
Being a stand-alone 501(c)(3) organization, we are dependent on outside sources of funding. Although at present most of our funding is through the Restorative Justice Council of Colorado, we also seek local support through various county programs, businesses and individual donations.
If you would like to contribute to FCRJ or are interested in becoming a volunteer (we hold monthly potluck trainings), then please give us a call at 530-5597 or visit our website, fullcirclerj.org.