Restorative Justice is our best hope for real transformation. If we truly want criminal justice reform, it is time we focus not just on dismantling the ineffective and destructive criminal justice system, but also start investing in building the infrastructure of a community-based Restorative Justice system.
We are a few days away from a vote that would signal a significant change to our justice system in Cook County. This vote is about more than funding for a few community programs; it’s about a change in philosophy and investing resources in our new priorities.
On Wednesday, November 18th, the Cook County Board of Commissioners will vote on an amendment to President Preckwinkle’s budget proposal that would double funding for community-based Restorative Justice—raising it to $1 million in the FY16 Cook County Budget. This increase would mark an important milestone in the Reclaim Campaign’s efforts to move away from incarceration and criminalization and towards community-based prevention, intervention, and restoration.
As people of faith, we envision a world where the power of restoration and reconciliation transform our criminal justice system and replace its fixation on punishment and retribution with a desire to heal broken relationships. We envision a world where young people are not beaten and arrested in school for minor infractions, but rather are given spaces to talk through their problems and seek support from their peers and adult mentors. We long for a world where jail and prison are not seen as solutions to the complicated issues of crime and violence, but instead as the unfortunate last resort when we’ve exhausted every option to support people caught up in harmful behavior.
You can also show your support when Commissioners vote on the FY16 budget by attending the Cook County Budget Meeting, Wednesday, November 18th, 10 am at the Cook County Building (118 N. Clark Street, 5th Floor).