Tag Archives: justice

Restorative Justice Becomes Law

New legislation happened quietly this year in Washington that affects the juvenile justice system. I knew it was happening, but the legislators I work with wanted to keep it quiet. Sometimes, when a light shines on legislation, people stop doing the right thing and do what they think is politically correct to be re-elected.

The new legislation can be found here: http://lawfilesext.leg.wa.gov/biennium/2015-16/Pdf/Bills/House%20Passed%20Legislature/2906-S.PL.pdf

The most important part of the legislation may be the addition of restorative justice as an alternative to secure detention:

“Community-based rehabilitation” means one or more of the following: Employment; attendance of information classes; literacy classes; counseling, outpatient substance abuse treatment programs, outpatient mental health programs, anger management classes, education or outpatient treatment programs to prevent animal cruelty, or other services including, when appropriate, restorative justice programs; or attendance at school or other educational programs appropriate for the juvenile as determined by the school district.”

Previously, restorative justice had restricted access. This opens it up for local municipalities to make their own judgment regarding what is good rehabilitation. It also defines restorative justice:

“Restorative justice” means practices, policies, and programs informed by and sensitive to the needs of crime victims that are designed to encourage offenders to accept responsibility for repairing the harm caused by their offense by providing safe and supportive opportunities for voluntary participation and communication between the victim, the offender, their families, and relevant community members.”

This is a big deal. Restorative justice is now codified in Washington state law!

We owe a great deal of thanks to Rep. Roger Goodman for being a tireless advocate of restorative justice. You can send a note of thanks via his assistant at: Derek.Zable@leg.wa.gov

Woohoo!!

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Creating Healing Congregations Training

Creating Healing Communities: Walking with those affected by Incarceration

The Youth Chaplaincy Coalition, a task force of the Church Council of Greater Seattle, invites you to “Creating Healing Communities: Walking with those affected by incarceration” on Saturday, March 14 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at First AME Church, 1522 14th Ave., Seattle 98122.

Healing Community congregations will build teams with other congregations in Washington and work to build an effective and powerful movement to change the criminal justice system at both the state and federal level.

Come hear how to bring awareness to your congregation about the issues of incarceration and recovery, reducing the sense of stigma and shame. Learn how to connect with those currently incarcerated, and how to provide support through support groups and pastoral counseling for the family and mentoring for returning citizens. Connect your congregation with community resources to better serve returning citizens.

Register and RSVP to the Rev. Terri Stewart, YCC-Chaplain@thechurchcouncil.org or 425.531.1756.

Healing Communities Flyer (PDF)

healingcommunities

You Can Do It: A Good Friday Homily

Delivered at Liberation UCC in Seattle on 4/18/2014-Good Friday.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour, the disciple received her as his own. -John 19:26-27, translation, mine

What if every time we left a vulnerable, grieving member of our family behind, we turned to another beloved and said, “Please, receive my family as your family.” But we are not taught to do this! Our culture has us holding our chin up! Standing on our own two feet! You should learn to be self-reliant!

Have you heard these messages? “You can do it if you try!”

Recently, as in Tuesday, I heard similar words come from a youth’s mouth. He is 15, from a marginalized area in Seattle, and struggling in detention. He and I were talking about what his next steps were and what his dreams of life were. He described a future where he could have a house that his family lived in—his mother and brothers and where he could have a game room and a workout room. Maybe, it would be a game room – slash – workout room—that was negotiable.

Taking that as his vision for his life, we talked about accomplishments that would enable him to achieve his vision of a cared for, stable, ordinary family and house. He expressed the thought that he should get a job now while his rent was free so he could save all his money and buy a house when he was 18. He could do it! All by himself! All he needed was a job at the Boys and Girls Club that pays $600 per month and he’s good. He can do it if he tries. It is all in his hands.

Never mind that he has a criminal record. Never mind that he can’t do math or science and probably will not be able to graduate high school. Never mind that he has nobody in his community to help him—I asked. None of that matters. He has bought the cultural ideal of independence and self-reliance.

The question is, what comes next? What will happen when this youth cannot get a bank loan, a full time job, or a GED? He will blame himself, not the systems that have failed him. And in blaming himself, he will be filled with shame and sadness.

In these words of Christ, we could hear not a nice moment of care-taking between beloved disciple and mother, but a command of how we should care for one another, especially those who are vulnerable. These words of Christ call out to us to receive our vulnerable youth, those affected by incarceration, gangs, and substance abuse.

What difference would it make to a vulnerable youth to have some behold them! See them! Love them! Receive them!

Interestingly, another possibility examining the word for “receive” in Greek elaben is the word “catch.” Doesn’t that really bring a different feeling to this? We are not only being called to receive the vulnerable among us, but to catch them. Provide a safety net that will enable them to grow into all that they were created to be.

Jesus said, “Woman, behold your son—and you—behold your mother.”

What if we said, What if we said, “People, behold your children—and you—behold your people.” What a difference it would make.

Amen? Amen!

Rev. Terri Stewart

Youth Opportunities Act

The Youth Opportunities Act (HB 1651) is sitting in the House Rules Committee. We are hoping it will move to the House Floor today, and be ready for a vote in the next few days. It is very important that we get as many representatives to vote for it as possible. Overwhelming support shows that it is a priority that the Senate must take seriously. Bills that do not get voted out of the House by Tuesday are dead.

 

So, please take a moment today to contact Representatives and urge a yes vote when HB 1651 reaches the floor. House Republicans are especially critical for this vote, so we would suggest you focus your efforts on them if your time is limited. PLEASE NOTE: We have attached a letter from the a national conservative policy organization, Right on Crime, which explains why the YOA is good fiscal and public safety policy. Please feel free to quote from it or use it however you feel useful.

 

The list of House members are here: https://dlr.leg.wa.gov/MemberEmail/Default.aspx?Chamber=H. You can send them emails directly from this page.

 

In addition, please see this article in the Seattle Medium by Ed Prince, the Executive Director of the Washington State Commission on African American Affairs, about the YOA: http://seattlemedium.com/the-youth-opportunities-act/.  And again, please feel free to refer to this excellent Crosscut series on the YOA: http://crosscut.com/2014/01/27/rights-ethics/118384/washingtons-never-ending-punishment-of-juveniles/

Upcoming Event: Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

Dr. Joy DeGruy author of “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome”

to Speak at the Edmonds School District Thursday 10/24, 7-9:30 p.mFrom Darlene Flynn, City of Seattle:

“Hello all,

In collaboration with the Edmonds School District, The Hazel Miller Foundation, Communities of Color Coalition and Families of Color United In Service (FOCUIS), I am excited and proud to let you all know we will be hosting Dr. Joy DeGruy author of “Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome” to Speak at the Edmonds School District Thursday October 24th 7-9:30 p.m.

This event is FREE and seating is limited.

The Edmonds School District is located at:

20420 68th Ave W Lynnwood, WA 98036 (just south of Edmonds Community College)

Dr. DeGruy is the foremost expert on Black historical trauma and its effects on the community today.

Dr. DeGruy’s presentation is a call for us all to identify the manifestations of trauma, a call to healing and a call to action.

We look forward to you seeing you Thursday October 24th from 7-9:30 p.m. at the Edmonds School District!

For more information on events like this, please join FOCUIS on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/EAACH2012?ref=hl

Sincerely,
Daniel VanArsdale
Director of Families of Color United In Service (FOCUIS)

Upcoming Events / Juvenile Justice Zine Release Party

Juvenile Justice Zine release party thrown by WISH

(Washington Incarceration Stops Here),

Friday, 10/11 7-10pm, at Queer Youth Space (upstairs at 911 E. Pike Street).
Full invitation from WISH as follows:
“I am writing to let you know that WISH has just finished compiling a great zine – Plan A – featuring poetry, art, and articles presenting a vision for alternatives to the new youth jail and juvenile courts.

“We will be having a zine release party on Friday, October 11th, and would love it if you and your members (and anyone else you think may be interested) can attend. The party will be at Queer Youth Space from 7-10pm. It will feature a short program, including speakers discussing WISH and poetry from zine authors, followed by lots of music, dancing, and refreshments! Although we won’t have any formal tabling, please feel free to bring any materials from your organization that you would like to share. You can click on the links below to see the facebook event page and the new postings to WISH’s blog:  https://www.facebook.com/events/219384354892998/http://nonewyouthjail.wordpress.com/

Best,
The members of WISH