Shifting the focus from broken laws and incarceration to repairing broken lives and healing damaged relationships
To provide pathways for healing and create safer communities. It's about...
...empowering offenders to feel accountable for their actions as loved and respected members of the community.
...supporting victims and addressing the harm committed with their needs in mind.
to reduce recidivism and promote positive behavior.
The CCJ Story
CCJ originated with the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP) in 1977 by an Elkhart County juvenile probation officer who discovered the program operating in Canada. VORP quickly outgrew the resources of the probation department and joined a regional organization called Prisoners and Community Together (PACT) in 1979, and Elkhart County PACT was born. Following this, the Community Service Restitution Program (CSRP) began.
In 1984 the two programs discontinued their association with PACT and CCJ, Inc., a 501(c)(3) was created. CCJ’s vision is for vibrant communities – safe, just and engaged. Our mission is to transform the communities of Elkhart County through restorative justice.
Over the years, CCJ has introduced restorative justice programs which include Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (1977); Community Service Restitution Program (1979); Victim Impact Panel (1993); Community Mediation Program (1999); Family Mediation Program (2008); Thinking for a Change Classes (2011); Transitional Coaching Program (2012); and Reading for Life (2014). CCJ has actively worked in Elkhart County for over thirty years providing successful restorative justice programming.
CCJ began as a struggling and passionate group who were mission-driven with the goal to restore relationships that resulted from the harms of crime. Over time the agency built strong relationships with the court system and eventually became a part of this system with state funding. The funding CCJ received for programming was supported by grants from the state and ample user fees that covered overhead and all administration costs; as well as the agency’s other program deficits. In 2009 the programs with strong financial structures shifted to county government.
This was a struggle and also a blessing. Center for Community Justice had to examine their identity. Rather than being part of the criminal justice system and state-funded; the agency redefined itself. The first year, 2011 was spent analyzing where we came from and what is our story? What does justice really mean? Since then, CCJ has been working to build an agency where all the programs are true to the principles of restorative justice: creating opportunities where all of Elkhart County can heal from the harms that happen in relationships and in life whether through business, neighborhood conflict, or crime. CCJ is now a community-based agency, supported by the community. We need community support and awareness to continue our work.
Letter from the Executive Director
God drew me in. That’s the only way I can explain my working here at CCJ. This part of the story of my being at CCJ knowing that the way forward is difficult, humbling and fraught with challenges including the isolation as a leader from outside the community, drives my days and nights. I’m reminded daily, however, that anything worth doing must cost you something; whether it is time, pride, anger, frustration and above all, whatever picture you have of the greatness of yourself.
But God. CCJ is not a religious organization and we serve anyone who comes to our door in need of our services. Yet we are an organization founded on the Judeo-Christian principle of restoring the lost, those who are victims of sinfulness and sinful acts at its core. CCJ through its staff believes in the inherent value of the human being, whatever their circumstances.
My brother in law constantly reminds me that there is redemption, that there is restoration. Not in some mystical spiritual way, but in our everyday lived experiences. As has been pointed out to me there is no statute of limitations on redemption. There is no rushing it; it operates on the timetable of eternity. We must forever remain open to the possibility of change. Why am I doing this job and serving in this capacity? It is where God has called and whom He calls He equips.
This is a service in ways that force me to see the incredible value of the social other in multiple ways. It is where the principles of hope in the face of hopelessness are found. CCJ is where the pursuit of healing and repair of harm costs everything and teaches "Radical Personal Responsibility”. It is where we serve in order to help others find healing and the establishment of healthy relationships in places where lives collide. Last but not least, the work we do at CCJ is the place where individuals find, embrace and share the very real experiences of equity and justice.
We are the Center for Community Justice and we do this work because we care about people in our local communities, not just their physical health, but the health and wellbeing of all who live here. I am glad to be a part of this experience.