Full Circle Restorative Justice works hard to meet Community Justice Needs. With two part-time staff and amazing assistance from college interns, we are happy to note FCRJ’s Success as we continue:
1) To promote the safety of our community by addressing juvenile and young adult offender accountability.
FCRJ continues to work with Juvenile and Adult case referrals from the D.A.’s Office, Probation & directly from Victims and Community Members.
2) To empower victims of all ages through a supportive conflict resolution process through dialogue with offenders, while introducing concepts of empathy and compassion.
FCRJ has successfully facilitated over 70 Victim-Offender Conferences with a high level of satisfaction as evaluated by all Circle participants. Victims are especially pleased with the process, in which they have a Voice – and input in the decision on how to repair the harm — by specifying community service work places with a specific number of hours, receiving payment for damages occurred and/or by working directly with the youth involved.
3) To give offenders an opportunity to take accountability, make restitution and move past shame, increasing his/her sense of self-worth and a connection to the community.
FCRJ provides opportunities for the offenders to connect with the Victims in a safe, supportive Circle environment, and then support the youth in meeting their contractual agreements to repair the harm. Both Victims and Offenders are in contact with Program Staff during each step of the process. Youth find a great deal of “relief and motivation” while building a positive sense of self-worth that is acknowledged in monthly Accountability and Support Circles attended by all youth with active RJ contracts. Successful completion and “Non-Recidivism” events are held to celebrate and promote youth and community member relationships.
4) To educate the community about the benefits of RJ, resulting in improved community awareness, involvement and satisfaction in helping individuals handle conflict in a positive constructive manner – and ultimately promote youth to remain productive and law-abiding citizens. (*Lowering the Recidivism rate!)
FCRJ continues with its community awareness campaigns and fundraising initiatives, as well as presenting in the local schools and meeting community needs. For example, FCRJ promoted the inclusion of Certified Therapy Dogs in Restorative approaches to conflict resolution – and is the first RJ program in the State of Colorado – and possibly the first in the Nation – to have Therapy Dogs with their handlers participate in Victim-Offender Conferences. FCRJ’s Executive Director Patty LaTaille, trained Facilitator and Dog Handler Terry Bolte with Dolores, the Therapy Dog, are scheduled to present “Paws and Peace – The Use of Therapy Dogs in RJ Circles” at the 2016 Colorado Restorative Justice Conference in Vail in September.
FCRJ completed a transitional year with major changes in the make-up and participation of the members of the Board of Directors. Once again, FCRJ has a strong working Board – now with eight members who are leading the organization in a positive direction. Chairman of the Board & Chaffee County Commissioner Frank Holman has led FCRJ into a County-supported workplace and set the wheels in motion for it to evolve into a County program.
Significant funding from the State of Colorado Juvenile Diversion ($50K) begins in July 2016 and will be used for Personnel expenses – providing a consistent presence in the community to provide services – now with a Full time Executive Director.
FCRJ will implement a 12 week “Prison Insight” program based on Restorative Practices taught by trained FCRL Facilitators in the Buena Vista Correctional Facility beginning in July. FCRJ has a “Powerhouse of Volunteers” – amazing and highly committed individuals that are the heart and soul of this organization. Please see Volunteer Profiles.
The community awareness and demand for program services has increased, yet due to limited funding and staffing resources, FCRJ has been limited in meeting those needs. For example, the FCRJ expansion in to Fremont County has been put on hold, although Juvenile Justice Personnel in Canon City are awaiting the implementation of an RJ program locally. This is slated to be in place by July 2017.
Raising funds to retain Jess Ervin, FCRJ Part Time Program Coordinator, is of utmost priority. Without her administrative work and program support, FCRJ would lack the staffing necessary to provide RJ services to the community. Jess is currently at 15 hours weekly and our goal is to reach twenty hours so she can potentially become a Chaffee County Employee with some benefits.
FCRJ Lesson Learned
The issue of overreaching current FCRJ staffing and resources to meeting community needs has been addressed initially by applying for and increasing funding resources. Staffing issues were resolved by hiring a Part Time Executive Director – now moving to Full Time – and hiring a Part Time Program Coordinator, in addition to supervising two capable Interns (undergraduate and graduate level). The FCRJ office was moved into the Chaffee County Courthouse and general operations expenses are now mainly covered. FCRJ also addressed the need to keep Trained Volunteers engaged and ready to take on the roles of Conference Facilitators and Co-Facilitators. FCRJ now offers continuous monthly Facilitator trainings and yummy potlucks, in addition to an intense full weekend training for the Prison Insight program.