Since Healing Hearts, Restoring Hope (HHRH) hosted its week-long training in Victim Offender Dialogue (VOD) earlier this year, the program has worked closely with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR) Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services to expand VOD in Southern California. VOD is a victim-initiated, face-to-face meeting between the victim or survivor of a serious or violent crime, including homicide, and the person who committed the crime.
Each week since 2012, Rev. Michael Quinn, who is a chaplain for the San Francisco Police Department, and Julio Escobar, who helped create the prayer efforts and outreach for the Restorative Ministry of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, have often stood alone on street corners and in alleys to pray for those who have lost their lives to violence. So far this year, they have prayed at every one of the 46 homicide scenes across San Francisco, oftentimes with little fanfare and no audience.
The California Budget & Policy Center has published a new report that analyzes combined state and county spending on incarceration and responding to crime. In 2014-15 (the most recent fiscal year for which figures are available), state and county spending in these areas totaled $20.7 billion, with nearly three-quarters of that amount ($15.1 billion) going toward incarceration.
The Third Annual Re-entry Conference and Resource Fair in San Francisco on October 1, 2016, drew over 30 exhibitors offering many post-incarceration resources. An estimated 250 people attended. "Our objective is to connect people with the support they need to come out of prison and stay out," said Julio Escobar, Director of Restorative Justice for the Archdiocese.
Last week, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law AB 2765 extending application deadline for Proposition 47 sentence reductions to 2022. Prop 47 reduces the penalty for low-level drug possession and five petty-theft related crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor. The misdemeanor category means people are freed from nearly 5,000 restrictions that come with a felony conviction in these areas. The restrictions have made it difficult for formerly incarcerated people to secure jobs, housing, student loans and other opportunities for economic security and family stability.
Diocesan Restorative Justice Directors and their community organizing partners gathered in Santa Cruz last week to share strategies, celebrate victories and plan for the coming year. The programs and priorities emerge from a close partnership between the Church, local parishes, other community leaders and the people most impacted by criminal justice issues.
The bill to limit use of room confinement in juvenile facilities has been signed by California Governor Jerry Brown. Senate Bill 1143 states that room confinement can only be used after less restrictive options have been tried and bans its use for the purposes of punishment, coercion, convenience, or retaliation. The law will go into effect January 1, 2017.
The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, also known as Prop 47, is two years old in November. This article by Fred LaPuzza, Diocesan Director of Restorative Justice in Orange, helps understand where we are with Prop 47 implementation today.
The 3rd Annual Restorative Justice Reentry Conference & Resource Fair is Saturday, October 1 from 8am to 3pm at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption Event Center in downtown San Francisco. A day ful of break-out sessions, resources and keynote address by Mike Farrell. Mr. Farrell, who had a lead role in the television series M*A*S*H, is also president of the board of Death Penalty Focus.