Week In the Life of an Intern 4/19/18… This last week was much more of what I have been doing in the past, research research research. I don’t mind it though. Learning more and more about restorative justice and what it is doing in our country and in others is fascinating. I have a Google alert set up to my email that sends me any news stories or articles on the subjects of restorative justice and restorative practices.
I get articles on conferences on restorative justice to an article that I had seen before on the Marshall Project about restorative justice practices being used in a case of an adolescent who had, at first, robbed a meat deli and was sentenced to peacemaking circles. Except it didn’t work for him that time, he had then gone out after the circle was completed and was part of a team of two who killed another teenager. A judge, instead of just throwing him into prison, gave him one more shot with peacemaking circles and it was found that it worked on him that time. By the end of the circle he was about ready to graduate from high school and was preparing to go to college. Talk about a turn around. You can find the article here: https://goo.gl/NY9Muz. Sorry for the short blog post this week, there wasn’t much to say besides I did a lot of research. ~Kasi
These last two weeks have been more or less the same as the past. Last week there was no circle, but research was still done on restorative justice and peacemaking circles. There was an article on posted on the Seattle Times online publishing about a judge who had, instead of sentencing a juvenile to prison for murdering another adolescent, he sentenced him to peacemaking circles. While the progress was slow at first, three years after his original crime, a robbery of a deli market, the juvenile was a new person and had been able to face his own problems and grow from it. That is one thing that I love the most about peacemaking circles and what they stand for. They change people positively. I have seen with clients of WCCC that, though I have only been going to circle for a little over a month and a half now, they have changed from the person they originally were. A lot of them when they started were not very nice to others, did not want to be there and thus sugar coated everything to get out of it. Now, when there is circle, all of them are so friendly with the other people there, they are willing to update on their life and on their case with the courts. It is amazing hearing about how the clients were when they started and seeing how they are now and how much of a difference there is. I truly believe that peacemaking circles and restorative justice work and change people in a positive way.
Another event that occurred within the last two weeks was an event that myself and Miranda, another intern with WCCC, put together in our school’s Center for Justice and Law. We wanted to introduce restorative justice to those who may have not known what it was and to show how it can be used as an alternative to incarceration. We had Lynn Schurrer, a member of the Board of Directors, come and speak about WCCC and everyone who came to the event. It was about 15 people, were very receptive to the idea and had quite a few questions about both the organization and restorative justice in general.
At circle this week we spoke on the value of spirituality. While I did not know what to say myself, everyone else there spoke about being connected to one another, feeling a sense of humanity in yourself when faced with adversity, and even about our beliefs in a higher being. It was wonderful hearing what other people had to say about spirituality and how they viewed it because I pretty much had no idea what to say. During the actual circle we spoke about needing a support system in place for ourselves when we enter into that frame of mind of not knowing what to do next. Having someone there to support you when you are down or to pick you up when you have fallen is extremely important and is rather rare in our current world. A lot of people say that they are independent and do not need anyone else, when in reality they do. Everyone needs someone sometimes and that is okay. Having a support system is not a sign of weakness, instead it is a sign of strength because you recognize that sometimes you can’t do it all on your own and that you may need someone else there to help you. Those are my thoughts from the last two weeks, I hope you learned a thing or two and I will see you all next week! ~Kasi
This week there was circle, but due to my school being on spring break, I was not able to attend as I went home for the week. But while at home I continued my research on restorative justice, specifically about restorative justice centers around the United States. I mentioned in a previous blog about what our world could possibly look like without prisons. As I was researching on centers around the country, I was surprised to find that there was one basically right in my own backyard in my hometown! Wisconsin is not known to have a very good criminal justice system so it surprised me to find that they did in fact have a restorative justice centers in the state. While there are only two, on in Waukesha and one in River Falls, it was still nice to see that there were these kinds of centers being used in the state.
Other research I have been doing is on the school to prison pipeline that is very much a problem in our country. For those who do not know what the pipeline is, it is in response to zero tolerance policies in schools where students are punished with suspension or worse for trivial and minor offenses like skipping class or stealing from another student. For the most part, the pipeline is disproportionately targeted toward minority students and students with learning disabilities and even LGBT students. For a paper I am required to complete in my Capstone class, I have chosen to write about the pipeline and how restorative justice practices can eventually eliminate the pipeline as students will be able to learn why their actions were wrong and why they received the consequence they did. All in all, I am excited and thoroughly enjoying the research I have been conducting and am even more excited to continue it. See you next week! ~Kasi
As with last week, there was no circle this week, but it gave me the opportunity to dive deeper into my research on restorative justice and I an excited about it. I found this on TED talk that speaks about what our world could look like without prisons. The speaker talks about restorative justice centers that are currently being built around the country. I have also begun to think of what I can do in my future after college and how I want to slowly begin to implement the concept of both restorative justice and community circles back home in my high school and then begin to expand to the other high schools and then to the broader community. The research that I am doing for this internship is only going to help me in the long run. This post is a little short as it was just research, research, research.
Next week there is circle, but I have gone home for Spring Break, so more research for me. I will report what I find though! See you next time ~Kasi
The TED Talk: https://www.ted.com/talks/deanna_van_buren_what_a_world_without_prisons_could_look_like
Here is a question for the ages; what would a world without prisons look like? It is easy to think about all of the positive possibilities that could arise from this, but it is also easy to think of all of the negative possibilities. Without prisons all of the murderers and drug dealers will be back on the streets wreaking havoc and making life rather miserable for the general population. But in reality, that is not what would happen. Having a world without prisons does not mean having a world without punishment. And even using the word punishment is a little harsh. On very plausible solution to eliminating prisons but still ‘punishing’ offenders would be restorative justice practices. These practices can range from community circles like what Washington County Community Circles does, to restorative justice centers, like what a TED talk that I watched spoke about. So it’s not just eliminating prisons and letting those who are in prison roam the streets, it is finding a better solution to mass incarceration in America. Many countries around the world are already implementing restorative justice practices into their own criminal justice system. America is rather far behind in having a well-oiled criminal justice machine of a system, but there are things that can be done to fix that.
To watch the TED talk, you can find it here; https://goo.gl/GfAwc4
This week there was no circle, which is a little saddening, but it gave me more time to really get into the thick of restorative justice research. I found a whole other world in the form of TED and TEDx talks. There are so many talks that have been done on our justice system and restorative justice and how we can fix our broken system. My favorite that I watched, or rather one of my favorites, is a talk done by a prosecutor named Adam Foss. You can find it here: https://youtu.be/H1fvr9rGgSg. I wrote another post that had this TED talk in it, but I really want to tell you all that this talk is amazing. He talks about helping his clients find their path to success and to understand their actions better and how they can impact other people that are not them. While this isn’t exactly restorative justice, it is pretty close to it and anything close to restorative justice is good to me.
Another talk that I watched is called ‘The Neuroscience of Restorative Justice,’ you can find it here: https://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_reisel_the_neuroscience_of_restorative_justice. In this talk the presenter Daniel Reisel talks about a study he did in prisons and what the brains of those that are incarcerated look like. He found that in most cases, their Amygdala, the center for emotion control and empathy in our brain, are smaller than the average person. Because of this, they are unable to understand other people’s emotions to the full extent and are unable to be empathic toward others. Restorative justice aims to fix that in a sense. Like a muscle, the parts of our brains that may be lacking can be worked to be strengthened and if we are put in situations where we are being told how something impacts another person, specifically the actions of one person on another, it can strengthen the brain to understand and reciprocate those emotions back.
All in all, this week was mind blowing for me as I have researched so much that I have even decided that I want to make a future that involves restorative justice and trying to reform our justice system. I don’t know how exactly yet, but I am slowly working through that confusion and coming to a clearer answer. ~Kasi
When the phrase ‘School To Prison Pipeline’ is uttered to an average person on the street, most don’t know what it is. In a nutshell, the school-to-prison pipeline starts in the classroom. When combined with zero-tolerance policies, a teacher's decision to refer students for punishment can mean they are pushed out of the classroom—and much more likely to be introduced into the criminal justice system. Basically, kids are being punished for small things in school and are being torn from the classroom and are not given the education they deserve and that increases the likelihood that they will end up in the criminal justice system.
So how does restorative justice play into that? Restorative justice is being introduced to schools throughout the United States and it is slowly starting to show results. Having kids sit down and talk with each other or their teacher or even the principal is proving to work better and faster than suspension or expulsion. In one school in Manhattan’s Hamilton Heights neighborhood a teacher is implementing restorative justice practices into their classroom. In the article I read about this, the teacher describes that the standard punishment for misbehavior is to send them to the principal to be suspended, but this teacher knew that this kind of punishment would do way more harm than good, so they decided to try out RJ. The teacher then goes on to describe what restorative justice would look like in this student’s case. Basically it would be the teacher, the student, some of the students classmates, and a facilitator sitting in a circle or group and talking through the students actions. Then they would all create a plan that would repair the harm done. If schools around our nation could adopt this kind of mindset instead of zero tolerance, wouldn’t the amount of criminals go down? Wouldn’t our crime rate decrease even more? Wouldn’t mass incarceration slowly decrease? The answer to all of these questions would be yes, in theory. In practice maybe not, but it is a place to start to reform our justice system.
All information for this post comes from:
It is easy to dream about a justice system where what we currently have is no longer the case and restorative justice has taken its place. Taking offenders and talking with them, setting them on a path for success is what we all want to happen. Offenders understanding why what they did was wrong and how they can change their behavior to not re-offend is what we all want.
In a TED Talk on restorative justice, Adam Foss, a prosecutor, speaks of his vision for a better justice system. When he is sat down with clients, he can make a choice. He either decides to send them to trial or he works with them. He almost always chooses to work with them. He talks with them about the crime that had been committed and he helps them understand where they went wrong and then sets them up for success. In the talk he speaks of Christopher, one of his clients that had stolen a large amount of laptops from a Best Buy. This was Foss’ first client and everyone expected him to send Christopher to trial. Instead, he sat down with Christopher and talked with him. He got a backstory from him and had a better understanding behind why Christopher stole the laptops. In the end Christopher and Foss worked together and recovered about 75% of the laptops and set up a payment plan for Christopher to pay Best Buy back. But why would Foss spend his time doing this? Why not send him to trial and eventually jail? Because Foss saw that Christopher was a young kid who had a troubled past and needed someone to believe in him, and Foss did. Now Christopher is a bank manager at a large bank corporation and makes more money than Foss. If you want to watch the TED talk, you can find it here: https://youtu.be/H1fvr9rGgSg
That story sounds like exactly what our justice system should look like, but instead we throw offenders in jail and forget about them. Most of the time these offenders don’t necessarily know that what they are doing is wrong and they need to be reminded of it, but throwing them in jail prevents that. It is my dream to be part of the re-imagining of our justice system. We need to care more about the offenders and not the money gained from the state in the end. Offenders are humans too, they need someone to believe in them, and that is what both restorative justice as a concept and Washington County Community Circles is doing. They are taking offenders and looking at them as humans who just need someone to believe in them, and it’s working.
RESPONSIBILITY. When I think of the work responsibility I can honestly say that I get a little anxious and nervous as I have many responsibilities that I am going to be dealing with in the next few months as I prepare for graduation. No matter how much I prepare for graduation and what I will be doing afterward, I am not going to be ready for all of the responsibilities that come with it, at least not right away. In circle this week it was one of WCCC’s clients last circles and sitting there listening to how far they have come since they started and how much the circle members have changed them for the better was inspiring. Each week as I sit through circle and listen to those around me and the client’s, I am more and more amazed by how effective this form of restorative justice really is. Like I had stated in a previous post, when I went into this internship, I wasn’t exactly sure how effective restorative justice was and now, only about a month in, I can see that it is incredibly effective at changing the lives of the client’s, but also the victims and the community, and how it can be used as a possible deterrent in the future of crime. One thing I really enjoyed about this week’s circle was seeing what a closing circle looks like and I was pleasantly surprised. There was a formal circle held, talking about final thoughts about the client’s case and the progress they have made, and then after that we had a little celebration to congratulate the client for completing the circle and for changing as a person into someone much better than before.
Each week as I research restorative justice more and more and look into how it can be implemented in other communities, I am seeing that in a lot of cases restorative justice is being implemented in schools and it is working for them. One article I read spoke about students being able to air their grievances and afterward they felt happier and safer in school. If using restorative justice practices in schools makes students feel safer, that means that it is doing something for them that is positive.
Those are my thoughts on this last week, I’ll see you next week. ~Kasi
Restorative Justice sounds like an end all be all to the problem that is the American justice system, but what if it isn’t as good as what we think? What if it actually harms our justice system? In a Wal-Mart in California, after a customer has attempted to steal a few items, they were taken into the back of the store and shown a video on how a criminal record can ruin someone’s future and was then told that they could fess up and attend a behavioral therapy to avoid this case going to court. When the individual was unable to fork up a $50 minimum fee, his case went to court, but not because he had attempted to steal something, instead it was part of another case on a company, CEC doing this to people in these stores and how it was illegal to do so. The company called this Restorative Justice. As we all now know, this is not restorative justice at all, and is, in fact, quite the opposite of it. Restorative justice is holding a perpetrator accountable to their actions and realizing where they went wrong. So there are companies and people out there that believe that this is restorative justice? How is that at all beneficial?
In an article on restorative justice and its effectiveness, it states that, in some cases, restorative justice does not allow most victims to participate in any formal process to resolve the issues surrounding their victimization. They also state that restorative justice doesn’t address the needs of the victim, and that victims need more than what restorative justice provides. In these ways, one can say that maybe restorative justice isn’t as positive as we once thought. But restorative justice isn’t about just the victim and their story, it is also about the perpetrator/offender and their story. It is about the offender being held accountable for their actions and understanding that what they did was wrong and how they as a person can fix it.
But on the other hand, in another article, it is said that there are many more benefits to restorative than costs. There are benefits for victims; obtain information, express the impact, be empowered, obtain restitution, an have control over the process and outcome. There are benefits for the community; be recognized and participate as secondary victims, be empowered, and build community responsibility. There are benefits for the offender; take accountability, undergo personal transformation, and can even be reintegrated when it is appropriate and safe for the offender, victim, and community. In the end, restorative justice is a work in progress as not many people know exactly what it is or how it works. With more education, this is a concept and practice that can be implemented in many communities and can help resolve the stigma around being an offender or victim.
All information for this post was taken from these two sites:
Over the last few months, our country’s main entertainment business Hollywood was rattled when accusations against many top movie makers came out. Sexual violence is no joke, and should never be taken as one. The question is, how can it end? The #MeToo movement is a movement started recently, at the Golden Globes actually, that is showing many celebrities standing in solidarity of victims of sexual violence. With Restorative Justice being shown to work in many different ways in the criminal justice system, who’s to say it won’t work in the case of sexual violence? Restorative Justice processes invite people who’ve experienced sexual misconduct to tell their stories on their own terms, without judgment. While putting the victim and the attacker in the same room may seem counter-intuitive, there was a case at a college where a male student sexually assaulted a female student and the two were ‘sentenced’ to sit together in a room and talk through what had happened. Both the victim and the attacker were able to talk through what had happened and why it had happened. The victim showed the attacker through words how the attack made her feel and what it took from her. This act forced the attacker to face the situation of what he did and why it was wrong instead of just telling him that it was wrong and throwing him in prison.[Editor's note: Washington County Community Circles never requires a victim to participate in Circles and/or participate in a Circle with the defendant/client. All participation by victims is voluntary and a case does not get accepted to Circle without agreement by the victim that the case be referred.]
In many cases, what it looks like for a victim’s session with Restorative Justice is that they are able to sit down with a combination of community members, volunteers, and counselors to ensure that they get the support they need. These sessions have community members and volunteers opening up and suggesting resources and coping mechanisms for the victim. The sessions can be incredibly healing for the victim and the community for many reasons. One major reason being that the victim knows that they are not alone and that there are people out there who only want what is best for them, no matter what it is. While our country and our criminal justice system has an incredibly long way to go in this matter, Restorative Justice and what it stands for is a step in the right direction.
All information gathered for this post came from:
Now that we all understand what Restorative Justice is and what it can look like (no? start here!), what does it actually look like? In a sneak peak of a new documentary titled Healing Justice: Cultivating a World of Belonging, the director of a Restorative Justice Project at Impact Justice speaks about a case given to her about a kid who had stolen a car and how they are using the concept of Restorative Justice to “punish” the child. I put the word punish in quotes because with Restorative Justice, it is replacing the concept of punishing an offender with them being held accountable for their actions. You can find the video at this url: https://goo.gl/znYsAs.
Another way that Restorative Justice is being used in our country is in schools! What this looks like in terms of a school is that it empowers the students to resolve conflicts among one another on their own and in small groups. So basically, the students are brought together in small groups to talk, ask questions, and then air their grievances. This is helping school districts reduce the amounts of suspensions and expulsion rates. The students are even saying that they feel happier and safer at school. If Restorative Justice is doing this amount of good in something like schools, which are filled with hormone raging teenagers who only want to make other feel bad about themselves, who’s to say it won’t work on a larger scale, like our justice system? [Editor's note - Minnesota schools have strong restorative practices programs and training. Find more information on the Department of Education site here - or read Nancy Riestenberg's book in Circles in schools.]
RESPECT. What does it mean to respect someone? To me, respect is knowing when to confront someone and knowing that people may know more about a certain subject than me. Respect is also a basic human right that all human beings deserve until proven otherwise. This is the value in the spotlight this week at circle. It really opened up my mind to what was talked about throughout the hour and a half I was there, due to the snowstorm I had to leave before the second circle that evening.
On Thursday night, I was able to see the values of WCCC in effect and watch it do what it set out to do. It is one thing to hear about circle working and it changing the lives of the clients, but it is an entirely other feeling to actually see it in action. Hearing about the client when they first started at circle as opposed to now is mind blowing and enlightening. They are a completely different person according to both themselves and the other circle members. In the beginning they did not want to be there and felt it was a waste of time. But seeing them this last Thursday so open to sharing their feelings and what is going on in their personal life including some actions they are taking, and how their relationship with their family members has changed in the time from when they began at WCCC and now is astounding. Before really seeing WCCC in action, I wanna say I was partially skeptical on if it was going to work. But now, all skepticism I had is gone and I can truly see everything that I was excited about with this internship really happening.
In regards to research being done by myself and another intern on the subject of Restorative Justice, with every article I read the more surprised and perplexed I am at the fact that Restorative Justice works and can be implemented in many places that will see results. As part of my class that goes along with interning with WCCC, I am required to make an infographic on a topic relating to a current issue as well as my internship. I have decided to take the overarching subject of Restorative Justice and apply it toward fixing, and possibly eliminating, the school-to-prison pipeline. For those who do not know what this is, it is basically what it says it is. A child will get in trouble in school and that will lead to them landing themselves in prison as an adult, almost right out of school. I want to see how Restorative Justice can help the pipeline in at-risk neighborhoods and districts as these are the places that really need it.
I am excited to continue updating you all on this each week! So until next time, see ya!~Kasi
Now that we've discussed what circle does, and what it is, it's time to begin the discussion on how it can, and has, been used to help others. The premise of circle justice is not new. It was used in many cultures before it came to us modernly, and is still being used by many of them. The most important factor in circle justice is that it allows both victims and offenders to be heard and to work through the underlying issues, in order to truly begin the healing process.
One of the main problems with our justice system, and the reason there is so much recidivism, is that we don't focus on the actual problem, instead we simply remove people from the public. This means that when they eventually do get released, they do not have coping tools, or connections to the people around them to help them continue to make good choices.
Circle assists with this in many ways. By participating in circle, it is possible to discover and work through issues that may have caused you to make the poor choices that led to the crime. Perhaps you are stressed and lashed out, or don't know how to speak to someone who angers you. Maybe you don't know where to get help finding a job or keeping one. Circle gives you the opportunity to open up about that, in a safe environment, and gives you a whole group of individuals who may be able to offer insight and help.
This fact, also offers a whole group of the community who is now invested in you, and helping you. It provides connection and care that you would not have gotten in a traditional sentence. When we feel connected, it is proven that we are less likely to re offend.
For the victim, circle can also be incredibly helpful. It provides the chance to ask questions, and get answers you could not get normally. It also provides the ability to say what you feel needs to be said to the offender. You can then work forward on actually beginning to repair the damage, instead of simply trying to move on. [editor's note: WCCC never requires victims to participate, focusing instead on empowering the victim to participate in whatever way works best for them and their healing process]
For the community, circle strengthens their own bonds, but also helps them to get closure over the incident as well. If the offender is a burglar, and they are simply sent away, when they return, so does the worry of being victimized again. However, when they attend circle, the community members may learn they needed money to feed their family. They can then begin to work through the problem, in the hope that addressing the issue will prevent more incidents.
Overall, circle provides more connection and healing that holds. It may be an unfamiliar idea for handling offenders, but it's been proven to work. I often think about how we raise children. We do our best to explain what was wrong, and to change the thinking or circumstances that led to the behavior, so it does not continue. Why should our approach to adults not aim for the same thing? Circle does.~Mirands
Restorative justice is exactly what the title says; restorative justice. It wants to restore justice, but in what ways exactly? While restorative justice is used widely through both the criminal justice system and the education system, it is easier to describe for the purpose of this post in terms of the criminal justice system.
According to Jane C. Murphy with the Baltimore Sun, restorative justice is an approach that aims to repair the harm caused by a crime instead of simply punishing the perpetrator. What this looks like is that the offender and the victim of the crime sit together in a room, not alone but with one or more other people there to ensure the safety and support of both individuals, and talk through the crime that was committed. Both of the individuals hear each other’s side of the story, how the crime impacted and influenced the victim and why the offender may have committed the crime. By doing this, it starts the conversation on how the offender can take responsibility for their actions and learn from them at the same time. What our criminal justice system is doing currently with many offenders is sentencing them quickly and throwing them into prison, no matter what the crime was. This doesn’t allow for any time for reflection and learning on the part of the offender. Just being thrown into prison with hundreds, even thousands, of other criminals is taking ten steps backward in regards to taking responsibility for what was done.
If every justice system throughout not only the United States, but the world, would adopt this concept in their proceedings, it would not only help keep people out of prison, but also help the victims find solace and healing in what happened. For now, small steps are being taken toward this. Community Circles is one of those small steps, not only is it helping the community get involved in the justice system and helping the offenders be accountable but it is also reducing recidivism back into prison.~Kasi
The 2018 Gertens Fundraiser is here! We are pleased to share some exciting new offerings this year along with the traditional hanging plants and potted plants. You can purchase gift cards, herbs, and a wide variety of beautiful hanging baskets and potted plants.
You'll find pictures and descriptions on the form (found here), where you can order and pay online, or send in a check.
All orders must be placed by April 4th. Pick-up will be on May 9th in Roseville.
Last year we sold 58 plants, flowers, and gift cards. Can you help us beat that goal this year??
In light of the school shooting in Florida, it is important that we open the conversation. At Hamline this is what our professors hoped to do. The amazing part, they chose to do so in a circle setting.
Circle can be used not only for those who have committed an offense, but for members of communities, as large as nationwide, to discuss feelings, reactions, and results of events. So often, we take the debate after something like this to social media, and it becomes hard to have a true conversation. The nature of social media makes it seem like the perfect setting, as you are removed from each other, and can speak freely. But do you really hear the others?
On Friday February 16, a group of students from Hamline university gathered to attempt just that. We laid out the facts, and then opened the conversation. By using a circle setting (or in this case, many small circles) everyone was able to voice their opinions. It gave us the chance to work through some of the feelings we had been experiencing.
Later in the event, we were able to talk openly about ideas, and beliefs revolving around these tragedies. Why do they keep happening? What can we do on nationwide, community, or individual levels? How do we have to change, and how do we address this subject? It's a hard one, and many of the questions asked above, and at the event are hard to think about, and even harder to answer. But being together face to face, with the ability to each speak and the intent to hear, not solely to answer, it became possible to begin to work through it. We were able to to circulate ideas, and to connect with others. Most importantly, it provided a reminder that none of us are facing this alone, and that all our voices should be, and need to be heard. There was no hard divide over one issue or another, but the ability to speak your own beliefs, and see where they could be applied to others.
It is in this time, where we need to make a change. And it is then, that we need more than ever, to have the ability to hear others, and not simply to be focused on our own ambitions, or beliefs. It is most important, to make these conversations something that all people can engage in. Ing act, there are several schools who are hosting circle sessions in order to get students talking, and ideas circulating. The ability to truly converse, in the way circles allow, is a skill that will be incredibly important as we try to move forward, in finding peace, and in finding solutions, and ways to help.
My heart goes out to all those involved, and so do my voice, and my ears. ~Miranda
We will have a new blog series for the next several weeks, courtesy of two new WCCC interns, Miranda and Kasi. Learn about WCCC and restorative justice along with Miranda and Kasi as they intern with board member Samantha Fahey and volunteer on cases in Stillwater.
This week was my first official week as an intern with Washington County Community Circles and it has been an eye opening experience. It wasn't just attending circle on Thursday night, which I will get into later, it was beginning actual research on both restorative justice and circle that has changed my view on a lot of different aspects of the American justice system. There are a lot of ways that we as a society can change it but as an individual, it begins with learning and understanding how exactly I can change the way the justice system “punishes" offenders. Before finding this internship, I did not know what restorative justice was exactly. I had a small inkling as to what it was because of my faculty advisor who is very interested in and is an advocate for restorative justice. The more I research the more I grow in excitement for what my future may look like in regards to reforming the criminal justice system.
Now going back to the circle I attended on Thursday evening, while it may have been what others would call “disappointing,” I call enlightening. The circle that was held wasn't an ‘official’ circle but it was still an experience that I will never forget. We spoke about the shooting that happened in Florida and how that made us feel as not only a person in this country but as a country as a whole. We spoke about compassion as the value this week and each of us that were there spoke of our disappointment and disgust in the fact that school shootings are so normal in this country. We then went on to theorize on reasons why things like this keep happening. While we never came to a full answer we can probably all agree that it has something to do with the lack of guidance and direction from parents toward their children.
Kids are left to their own devices in most cases, never really knowing what is right and what it wrong. But if we can figure out why this keeps occurring and then fix it, maybe our country has a real future. To conclude, I m looking forward to the next 12 weeks as an intern with Washington County Community Circles. See you next week! ~ Kasi
Looking for a way to celebrate our community and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? One of our volunteers shared the following information on a community breakfast next Monday:
There is an MLK Breakfast to be held at St. Peter’s Church at 7 am on Monday morning, Jan. 15th. It is designed as a community-wide event for everyone and also one that will recognize a couple local folks notable for their work on human rights (a co-sponsor for the Breakfast is the Stillwater Human Rights Commission). There will be a breakfast, then a chance to view the livestream from the Mpls Breakfast with a keynote and then some local celebrating of our own community and people in it doing good work for justice, peace and inclusion. Tickets for the breakfast are $5 (kids 12 and under are free) and are available through INTERFAITH ACTION.
See this flyer for more information!