Restorative Justice - How can it help you?
July 31st, 2019
In 2016, there were 2.2 million people behind bars. Though the number seems to point to the lowest incarceration rate in the United States in the last 20 years, there’s another number that you should be aware of.
An estimated 2% to 10% of the people in prison right now were wrongfully incarcerated. And when they are released, they often face plenty of hardships in their efforts to get their life back on track.
But no matter if convicted wrongfully or not, everyone deserves a second chance. It’s the principle the justice system works on. For many, extra help is needed in order to resume a normal life after prison, which is what restorative justice is for: rehabilitation, and reintegrating these people in the community.
Restorative Partner is a group in San Luis Obispo County which has dedicated its activity to helping former and current prisoners achieve just that. Here are some restorative justice examples they currently run.
Why These Examples Matter
For most people, once a person is incarcerated then they disappear from the mind. You may only think about them once they are released, and as many studies show, they are often not greeted with open arms.
But with the right help, people whose lives were formerly dictated by crime can have a real shot at normalcy and can become a contributing member of society. These restorative justice examples from Restorative Partner show just how much work there is to be done.
1. Reentry Housing and Service Programs
Reentry can be a difficult time for former prisoners who do not have the luxury of returning to family or friends. It’s easy to feel alone at this time, but this is a great restorative justice example of how these individuals can get a second chance.
Restorative Partners offers several housing places where those who are released from prison can stay in. Additionally, the program includes mentorship programs, therapies, and workshops meant to help people stay on track.
2. Juvenile Hall Programs
Integrating minors back into the community after they’ve spent time incarcerated has its unique challenges, so it’s important for restorative justice programs to address them head-on.
At Restorative Partners, the juvenile hall program encompasses a large catalog of different types of activities meant not just to help these kids get back on track, but also to help them learn new skills, aid their development, and give them some sense of a normal childhood.
Some activities include:
- AA and NA meetings to help themstay sober;
- Workshops on helping them lead nonviolent lives;
- Art and creative writing classes;
- Birthday events
- Various clubs (chess clubs, book clubs, etc.);
- Tutoring programs.
3. Jail Programs
The work of rehabilitation is much more effective if it’s started before a person is released back into the community. Part of Restorative Partner’s activity involved going to the prisoners and offering them a wide variety of activities designed to help them manage their emotions, and prepare them for the day they are released.
In this case, Restorative Partner has the following activities planned:
- Nonviolence workshops;
- Various types of classes - art, guitar, computer programming, yoga, and meditation;
- Therapy sessions such as ‘music therapy’ or spiritual counseling.
What Can You Do?
The work that Restorative Partners is able to do is dependent on the support of the community, either through donations or signing up as a volunteer. Check out more about the incredible work they do and how you can help too.