Re-entering society and finding employment can be a huge challenge for those who have been previously incarcerated. We provide hands-on coaching and support to assist citizens who are returning to society as they cross the bridge and re-adjust to their communities.
We share educational resources on Restorative Justice throughout businesses, schools and the entire Elkhart Community to promote reconciliation and break the school-to-prison pipeline.
After offenders cause harm, we seek to reconcile them with their victims and the entire community to help them find ways to make things right. This approach keeps every party engaged and gives victims a voice.
VICTIM OFFENDeR RECONCILIATION PROGRAM (VORP)
Criminal Justice System
What law was broken?
Who broke it?
How can the offender be punished?
These are important questions. However, they may not address the experiences of the people who were actually involved in the crime.
Who was affected?
What harm did they experience?
How can the harm be made right?
Restorative justice is an alternative approach that views crime as harm is done to people and communities and seeks to identify and address that harm.
A New Conversation
The Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP) works with both the victim and the offender to identify how crime affected the victim, and what steps the offender can take to begin to make things right.
This requires a new conversation—one that involves both the offender and the victim.
It is a conversation that allows victims to ask questions about why the offense was committed and to tell the offender how it affected them. It is also a conversation that gives offenders an opportunity to take responsibility for their actions by taking steps to address the harm they caused. This conversation may involve a face-to-face meeting between the victim and the offender, or it may be facilitated indirectly by the VORP staff. One outcome of the VORP conversation is a contract that identifies how the offender will make reparation for their actions.
These are the problems your crime has caused in my life
I did not realize your suffering, I feel ashamed for what I have done
what victims say about VORP
"This is a great thing to do. It helped me understand why the person did what they did. It helps each of us understand better and gets our feelings out there."
what OFFENDERS say about VORP
"Without this program, I wouldn’t be able to have this chance to apologize and make things right."
Transitional Recovery Coaching
One of the most important aspects of a person’s reentry and/or recovery; yet, one of the most overlooked, is the availability of positive, pro-social relationships. Returning citizens often find themselves returning to former relationships. Unfortunately, all too often, they are relationships that will increase their vulnerability to re-offend. And while nobody plans to go back to prison, once they are released, in Elkhart County, nearly 4 in10 will do just that; 50.1% will return to IDOC for the commission of a new crime and approximately 49.9% for a technical rule violation.
How it works
A TRC client will meet weekly (for the first three months) with their coaches to work through their recovery/re-entry plan.
Clients determine their recovery and/or reentry plan and TRC coaches will help them stay on course while helping to develop their strengths and potential.
A transitional or recovery coaching relationship can last up to one year after release.
This is a voluntary program, not a level of supervision nor is it mandated through the courts or the Indiana Department of Correction (IDOC). A client can end a coaching relationship at any time. However, evidence-based practice reveals that the longer a returning citizen remains in pro-social relationships the greater the chance of never reoffending.
Why it's needed
These are some of the reasons our clients have stated before joining our coaching program
“I need support to stay off of meth, because if I don’t have support with this then I know that I will definitely go back to using.”
“I’ve never really had someone to guide me in the proper direction in my life and being in this program will truly help me out.”
“I feel like this would help me. If I had someone to coach me in the beginning then I wouldn’t be here in the first place."
“I think that if I have all the support options that are out there, I might just make it this time and not get caught up in problems"
“I feel that having as much support and peer mentorship will benefit me upon release. At this point, I have very few friends left and feel that TCP will help me start to have healthier relationships with boundaries already established.”
Victim Impact Panel
What is VIP?
The purpose of this program is to enable participants to make better decisions or as we say to take “Radical Personal Responsibility” for their decisions concerning operating while intoxicated (OWI) and driving under the influence (DUI). It is all about making good decisions for life. Attendees of this program are referred by both adult and juvenile courts.
How does it work?
The Panel consists of volunteer speakers who have experienced firsthand the effects of accidents caused by drivers impaired by alcohol or other drugs or who have caused these accidents themselves.
Each person on the panel will tell you about the day that changed his or her life forever. Some panelists have been injured or have lost loved ones as a result of a crash caused by a driver who was impaired. Other panelists may have injured or killed someone driving while impaired.
Panelists hope that attendees, after hearing these types of stories will realize the consequences and suffering that driving while impaired can cause. Our desired and expected outcome is that experiencing VIP can prevent tragedies such as these from occurring which can affect your family or someone else’s.
Additionally, individuals who attend also have the option of asking for a Peer Recovery/ Addictions Coach as they take responsibility for their decisions. As our VIP coordinator says “You’re always one decision away from living a totally different life.”
Promise Academy for Conflict
PArt Workshop Series
eMPOWER yOUTH TO tRANSFORM coNFLICT
CCJ’s staff of conflict resolution and restorative justice experts teach program participants conflict resolution skills to help them stay out of trouble in the future. With a focus on constructive communication, perspective-taking, and non-violent communication, PACT challenges youth to take nonviolent approaches to conflict. The social-emotional development that youth experience from the PACT workshop series helps them at school, at home, and in the community. Giving youth a second chance to make things right when they have caused harm recognizes the promise that youth have. Empowering them to live up to that promise is a PACT worth making.
In efforts to provide additional support to PACT participants, CCJ also meets with parents before and after PACT in what CCJ calls Family ImPACT Nights. During one of these sessions, a parent explained that their child has had a traumatic year and that her hope for her child after going through PACT is “that her heart starts to heal because her heart was broken”. The Center for Community Justice is happy that PACT has provided another pathway to healing for those who need it.
What do our youth say about PACT?
"Pact helped me learn new ways to deal with anger and conflict”
“We learned how to deal with conflict better and what we can do to solve problems. Now I will talk to people more to understand why they are doing what they are doing.”
“I learned that talking about feelings and emotions due to conflict is better than fighting. Now I will talk things through instead of fighting.”
“PACT helped me learn new ways to deal with anger and conflict. I learned how to cope and do better with drama. I think it will help me stay out of drama”
The Center for Community Justice has begun using conflict coaching to work with clients to empower them to success when facing challenges at work and or in interpersonal relationships. Conflict coaching is a one- on -one process of coaching someone who is in conflict. It aims to empower people to be their own agents of change through a series of sessions that culminate in skill-building sessions.
Coaching sessions cover:
Looking at the way that Identity, Emotions, and Power have influenced the conflict
Developing skills and action steps to empower success
Clients of CCJ’S Coaching to Success model have praised the way the process empowered them to resolve conflict.
Conflict Coaching Orientation
The Center For Community Justice has also been partnering with the Elkhart Community Schools to implement conflict coaching as an HR practice. CCJ has held two 3-day orientations on Conflict Coaching with Elkhart Community Schools staff. Participants have lauded the impact the orientation to Conflict Coaching has had.
Elkhart Community Schools Leadership Team Circles
The Center for Community Justice has been working directly with the Elkhart Community Schools' administration by conducting community-building circles with the leadership team and principals. The circles aim to build a restorative culture among district-level leaders and have won praise from Elkhart Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Steve Thalheimer. Superintendent Thalheimer wrote; “I really felt the work yesterday was a breakthrough moment for the team, and I had someone from the circle email me about how they felt supported and part of a cohesive team for the first time. Great topic for us to explore”. Superintendent Thalheimer further emphasized that the administration views CCJ as an integral partner in District level initiatives focused on implementing Restorative Justice Education(RJE). “I have had principals and staff suggest restorative practices as a way to approach situations more and more as they come to learn what CCJ does", Superintendent Thalheimer explained.
Center for Community Justice believes that when there is harm or conflict, the people who are most involved and affected should be at the center of any conversation to address wrongdoing. Mediations, circle processes, and other facilitated meetings all empower parties to engage in finding the best way to move forward.
CCJ mediation staff and volunteers are trained in Restorative Justice, mediation and circle processes, conflict coaching, communication skills, community mediations, family mediations, and issues of power, balance, and equity. Contact us with your concern and we will work with you to design a process to meet your needs.
RESTORATIVE JUSTICE EDUCATION