C4RJ Partners with Police in 17 Local Communities to Bring Together Those Affected by Crime
In its first 16 years, in more than 700 cases, Communities for Restorative Justice (C4RJ) has partnered with a growing number of police departments in towns northwest of Boston to offer those affected by crime an alternative to the traditional judicial system. That alternative, restorative justice, recognizes that crime is a violation of people and relationships, not just a violation of law. Police departments refer cases to C4RJ in the aftermath of wrongdoing. C4RJ’s trained volunteers meet with victims, offenders, their supporters, community members and law enforcement personnel in a “circle” process that builds understanding on all sides and offers offenders, usually under age 25, an alternative to a court hearing and possible incarceration.
“Expanding the Circle: Restorative Justice at a Pivotal Time,” a party and fundraiser celebrating 16 years of C4RJ-community-police partnerships with live music, a light supper and silent auction, will be held on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 from 6-9 p.m. at the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library, 33 Marrett Rd., Lexington. Judge Nancy Gertner, a former US District Court Judge in Massachusetts and current Senior Lecturer on Law at Harvard University, will be guest speaker.
“Unlike in court, restorative justice gives victims an opportunity to speak directly with those who committed a crime against them,” said Erin Freeborn, C4RJ Executive Director. “Offenders hear how what they did damaged the victims, their families, homes or businesses. In conversations with trained facilitators, offenders learn decision-making skills and ultimately make restitution by fulfilling requirements agreed upon by everyone in the restorative meeting. If all goes well, they are spared from having a court record for their crime. Offenders are held accountable but also given a second chance in their community.”
C4RJ currently partners with the police departments in Acton, Arlington, Bedford, Boxborough, Burlington, Cambridge, Carlisle, Concord, Groton, Hudson, Lexington, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard, Stow, Sudbury, and Wellesley and the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office’s Juvenile Diversion Program. The nonprofit organization was founded in 2000 by former Concord Chief of Police Len Wetherbee and community residents.
Judge Nancy Gertner, the event’s guest speaker, in retirement is trying to undo some of the damage of mass incarceration—damage that she was involved in by imposing mandatory sentences from the bench. She is trying to identify and help those individuals she sentenced who might qualify for presidential clemency, either because of changes in the law or because their sentences were disproportionate. Her book, “In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate,” is highly regarded within the legal community for her stance on women’s rights and civil rights in general.
Savory dishes and desserts at the event on Sept. 29 will be provided by Via Lago, Neillio’s, Bisousweet Confections, and others. The public is invited. There will be live music, a silent auction and a light supper provided by local restaurants. Tickets $75 to $250. RSVP by Sept. 15 at http://c4rj-expanding-the-circle.eventbrite.com or email@example.com or 978-318-3467.