August Report: Restorative Justice

Program:   Restorative Justice, Tina Sigel, presenter

The meeting was called to order at  6:31pm; 11 people attended.  

Our speaker is Tina Sigel, Program Manager for Restorative Justice.   Ms Sigel last spoke to 2-PAC in 2017. 

Ms Sigel requested that I replicate only her PowerPoint in this report, and suggested you watch and listen to the YouTube recording of the meeting.   That recording includes both Ms Sigel’s expansion from the PowerPoint outline and her responses to questions from people attending.  https://youtu.be/bymBfRg1xZI

Ms Siegel began by defining the differences between the Criminal Justice System and Restorative Justice

Offering some framework, the traditional criminal justice system and Restorative Justice look at crime through different Paradigm Assumptions. 

The basis of the Criminal Justice System is ownership:

  • Offender is defined by deficit; victim is defined by losses.
  • Crime is an individual act with individual responsibility.
  • The Criminal justice system controls crime. 
  • Beliefs: Punishment is effective.   Threat of punishment deters crime.   Punishment changes behavior.

Restorative Justice:

  • Offender is defined by capacity to make reparation; victim is defined by capacity to participate in the process and to heal. 
  • Crime has individual and social dimensions of responsibilities. 
  • Crime control lies primarily in the social/economic system.
  • Punishment is only effective for short term behavior change.  Relationships are more powerful than punishment for long term behavior change.

Justice Lenses:

Retributive:                                 Restorative:

1) What law was broken?                                     1) Who has been hurt?

2) Who did it?                                                       2) What are  their needs?

3) What punishment do they deserve?                 3) What are the obligations and whose are they?  

Three pillars of Restorative Justice:

Harms and Needs

Obligations

Engagement

Restorative Justice Community Action  –  a brief history.

1997 –  The Stevens Square Community Organization (SSCO) launched the Central City Neighborhood Partnership (CCNP) Community Conferencing program to address the level of livability crimes in the area.  Over time, as the positive potential of utilizing restorative justice practices became evident, the program grew in response.

2005 – The CCNP volunteers and community participants established RJCA as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in order to build capacity.

2010 –  RJCA expanded the service area to include all Minneapolis neighborhoods which were addressing  misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor offenses. 

2010 – Remodeled and established the current Youth Community Conferencing program (including Ramsey County)

2011 – RJCA Community Conferencing became a requirement for Hennepin County Drug Court clients.

2013 – RJCA became the restorative partner for Hennepin county diversion to address low-level 5th Degree Felony.

Our Community Conferencing process continues to facilitate meaningful accountability through involving offenders, victims, and community members in meaningful dialogue to address harms and making amends.   Despite Covid challenges, in 2021, we held 250 community conferences.
What is Restorative Group Conferencing?

  • Types
    • Peace-making circles, Victim-Offender Dialogue, Family Group Conferencing, Community Conferencing. 
  • Admission of responsibility by offender
  • Voluntary for Victim
  • Incident-based, behavior-based
  • Focuses on empowering participants
  • Looks at underlying causes
  • Comes to consensus agreement
  • For adults or juveniles, any point in life.

Discussion of Impact:

Referred participant: 

  • Tells what happened                    
  • How they feel about it
  • Who they think was impacted
  • How they’ve dealt with it since then.

Community members and direct victims (when applicable) speak about:

  • How this behavior has affected them personally,
  • And/or how it impacted the community.
  • How they feel about what happened.

Create an agreement:

The Referred Participant (RP) and Community Members, through consensus, create a plan to repair

    harm/make amends, and move forward in a positive way.  

To help craft a plant that feels restorative, agreements could include:

  • Community Service
  • Apology and/or gratitude letters
  • Personal development activities
    • 1) Written reflection, essay, journal
    • 2) Educational, employment, self help guidance
    • 3) Donations.
    • 4) Creative expression (art, music, etc.)

The Referred Participant has 60 days to complete the agreement.  Youth have 30 days. 

Important:  Once the participants have completed their agreements, their cases are dismissed.  That is a very important part of Restorative Justice.  That dismissal is very important for someone who is trying to get a job or get into a training program.   They won’t be held back by a record.Goals of Conferencing:

Referred Participant Accountability

  • Understanding better the harm done and how many people may have been affected
  • Being accountable to the person harmed (when applicable), or
  • Being accountable to the community
  • Having responsibility to repair the harm.

Community Accountability

  • To provide perspective on how community is impacted
  • To engage, be curious, gain understanding
  • To participate in the agreement
  • To identify and address, to the extent possible, the underlying community conditions
  • Provide support

WHY DOES RESTORATIVE JUSTICE WORK?

  • Hear the impact of their actions versus paying an arbitrary fine.
  • Second chance / opportunity for personal transformation
  • Get and give empathy
  • Address root causes — not just moving crime around¬†
  • Strengthens, builds and nurtures COMMUNITY.

Additional Programming (since 2020)

The Hennepin County Youth Restorative Justice Disposition Program empowers youth on probation to shape their own meaningful accountability process in conjunction with their web of support, community circle keepers, and a probation officer.   The group decides on accountability measures, then meets regularly to monitor and celebrate progress

The Reimagining Public Safety Project is piloting a neighborhood-based public safety model.  Through a Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention grant, RJCA as partners with Minnesota Peacebuilding Leadership Institute and community leader Manu Lewis to guide a neighborhood organization in creating a public safety model that fits the needs and desires of local neighborhoods.

We became a lead agency in Minnesota for the TRUST Network, a hub of resources for violence interruption and public safety alternatives.

Poster:  Crime Wounds – Justice Heals / Harry Mica and Hoard Zehr  

[Ms Sigel closed with a Restorative Justice poster by Harry Mica and Howard Zehr, titled “Crime Wounds….Justice Heals.   It includes the following:]

image.png

You can read more about R.J. at its website: https://www.rjca-inc.org

Ms Sigel came back with an announcement that the Humphrey Center for the Study of Politics and Governance was airing a very special presentation on August 11.   Like most Humphrey events, this was recorded for future audiences.   You can find the recordings for “A Better Path to Achieving Public Safety” at [tiny url] https://tinyurl.com

If you have trouble with that, contact cspg@umn.edu   The presentation has been divided into 3 parts,
Panel 1: A Conversation with Dr. Cedric Alexander

Panel 2: The Challenge of Mental Health and the Criminal Justice System

Panel 3: Next Steps with Attorney General Keith EllisonState of the Precinct

CPS Ali reported a good turnout for National Night Out in the Second Precinct.   He and officers got to as many NNO Sites as they could.

Emilie reminded us that in July, Inspector McGinty stated that the 2nd Precinct had the lowest crime rates in the city.   She checked to see if that held true in August.  28 days’ statistics for the 2nd Precinct in 2022 and 2021 are below, with a 3rd column for 2022  in the 3rd  Precinct. 

Crime                    2022                 2021              2022 in the 3rd Pct.

Assault                      85                     86                  68

   (incl. Domestic)        7                       7                  16

Burglary                    30                      18                107

Vandalism                 78                      69                170

Homicide                    0                       0                     2

Robbery                    21                     16                  69

    (incl.Car-jkng)         5                       3                   25

Stolen property           5                       4                    8

Sex offenses               2                       2                   11

Weapons violation     11                      9                   29

Shots fired                 33                    29                 137

Gunshot wound           4                      5

Pct 4 and 5 topped us in every category also. 

Conclusion:  The Inspector was right.  (The surprise is how wide the spread is between Precincts.)

Emilie Quast, Board member

MPD Second Precinct Advisory Council (2-PAC)

Minneapolis MN 55418
e-quas@tc.umn.edu

Attachments area

Preview YouTube video Restorative Justice, Aug. 8, 2022

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