Baltimore's oldest black cemetery finally restored, with help of inmates
....After decades of neglect, interrupted occasionally by well-meaning but ultimately fruitless cleanup efforts, the cemetery in South Baltimore was officially rededicated Monday, due in large part to the labors of an unlikely group: state prison inmates.
As part of a program to put those serving time to work on meaningful projects, more than 40 prisoners have worked on the four-year effort to transform the cemetery's 34 acres.
A second chance at Curt's Cafe
Curt’s Cafe, 2922 Central St., is an unlikely crossroads for the two: Trieschmann hires at-risk young adults, particularly those with criminal records, providing them with hard-to-find job training and work experience. The non-profit restaurant is one of the only adult ex-offender re-entry programs in a city that focuses most of its re-entry resources on at-risk youths.
Trieschmann said the road to opening the experimental business was far from smooth, with some neighbors concerned about the business drawing former criminals to Central Street. Still, it’s an experiment that restorative justice advocates and even Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said is worth a shot.
Art helps heal crime's wounds
I admit it. Sometimes I have Philly envy. Philadelphia has a Mural Arts Program, and the community in which I live does not.
....I have been drawn to the arts as a way of reframing the challenges of crime and trauma. The arts can engage the whole person to express or understand the harm done and help harness heart and intelligence to reduce isolation. The arts can provide a way to explore what can be done to give back, and to give voice to the full range of human experience. The act of creation can restore a sense of meaning and agency to those who harmed and those who have been harmed.
Meeting the murderer: Profile of victim-offender dialogue facilitator
from the entry on Grits for Breakfast:
See an interesting article from the Christian Science Monitor about a boat builder from Maine who runs a non-profit facilitating victim-offender dialogue (VOD) between violent criminals and their victims or their families, which is an idea derived from "restorative justice" models.
A view from behind bars: School of Theology and Ministry exhibition showcases artwork by American prisoners
from the article in The Boston College Chronicle:
An exhibition of more than 40 works of art that depict images of grief and hope created by men imprisoned in American jails and penitentiaries will open at the School of Theology and Ministry on March 15.
“Seeing the Man: Art From Behind Bars, A Vision of Restorative Justice and Healing” will be on display through April 30 in the Atrium Gallery of the STM Library, located at 117 Lake Street on Brighton Campus. The works of art are provided by Do-Right Ministries, a non-profit organization that raises awareness about the American justice system and promotes healing through art.
Restorative justice provides new path for prisoners
....This is no television prison. There is no guard or glass wall. There are no handcuffs or restraints, just a couple of cameras and a conversation. A conversation about where they came from, why they’re here, but most importantly a conversation about where they’re going. It’s a path with few options.
“On the other side of that door, it’s either hell or redemption,” Baumgardner says. “You choose.”
“That door” leads to the bowels of Jefferson City Correctional Center, a maximum security prison. Starr, Baumgardner and King have all chosen the latter path. Hell is what got them here. Restorative Justice offers them a chance to change that.
Missouri prisons grow 50 tons of food for pantries
from the article on stltoday.com:
Missouri prisoners have raised more than 50 tons of vegetables and fruit that have been given to food pantries around the state.
The Department of Corrections says this year's harvest was significantly higher than last year's, when the agency donated 29 tons of produce through its Restorative Justice Garden Program.
Under the program, the seeds and plants are donated to the Corrections Department, which then donates all the resulting food to local pantries.
Murderers turned peacemakers
How is it that women, with dark pasts, serving time for murder and manslaughter, could possibly become honored peacemakers?
Their story is one of personal commitment to themselves and the community in which most are destined to live out their lives. “This is an environment filled with conflict and violence. There is a dire need and want for change,” says Susan Russo, one of the fifteen initial peacemakers, serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole at the largest prison for women in the world, Valley State Prison for Women in Chowchilla, CA. “Mediation interests all of us because we are lifers and long-termers hoping to make a difference in teaching our peers that there is a better way.”
Beginning her quest in 2007, Sue Russo wrote over 50 handwritten letters from prison to mediators all over California. Her letters went unanswered until August of 2009 when one of her letters made it to me, Laurel Kaufer, Esq., a Southern California mediator and peacemaker and founder of the post-Katrina Mississippi Mediation Project.
Giving back: RCI’s Restorative Justice Program helps inmates help others
On a recent Friday morning, 13 inmates at the Racine Correctional Institution in Sturtevant diligently worked on their needlework, their nimble fingers pulling together tiny stitches or weaves. The fruits of their toil lay strewn about the tables: a Mickey Mouse look-alike, a doll, random bears and other stuffed animals, as well as scarves, hats and more slowly took shape.
Those bears and lamb pillows have made their way into little hands around the community, and those mittens and gloves will keep others warm this winter.
Charity Crafts is part of the prison’s Restorative Justice Program, through which inmates find ways to give back to the community, according to Tommie Thomas, RCI program supervisor.
Colorado mother wishes for meeting with son's killers
The 3-year-old boy affectionately known as "Biscuit" was sleeping in the back of a parked old Cadillac when the shooting began.
Fourteen bullets hit the car in the drive-by shooting outside a northeast Denver duplex. Biscuit was shot in the head and died. His brother, Calvin, four days shy of his 7th birthday, and a teenage cousin were unhurt.
Sharletta Evans — mother of Biscuit, or Casson Xavier Evans — came to forgive the gunmen, who were 15 and 16 years old at the time of the Dec. 21, 1995, shooting. But it took years for her to decide she wanted to meet them in prison, hoping for closure.
A new Colorado law encourages the state Department of Corrections to facilitate such reconciliation meetings. Yet it's a process that requires they be safe and don't backfire on victims. And prison officials say there's simply no money to make it happen in the near future.