Johnathan stopped for a couple of drinks and a burrito on his way home from his night shift job. It was Sunday morning. The remaining drive would become a turning point in his life. Johnathan rear-ended a car, injuring the driver and his wife. Thanks to a pilot program launched by the Diocese of San Diego's Restorative Justice Mediation Program (RJMP) and the city's DUI Probation Unit, Johnathan received the opportunity to meet his victims, take responsibility for his actions, and find peace.
A series of short classes presented by Restorative Partners became part of the Diocese of Monterey's training for deacons at a convocation in March 2016. The classes dispelled the misconception that restorative justice simply means ministry to the incaracerated. The 38 deacons and their spouses learned about the many ways restorative justice helps to rebuild communities. Several expressed a new interest in restorative justice work.
Under intermittent rain on a January afternoon, a group of people walked together at a fast pace and shouted, "We want peace and justice!" The annual March for Peace, now in its third year, was coordinated by the Restorative Justice Ministry of the Archdiocese of San Francisco and held in memory of those killed by violence in the city during 2015.
The California Bishops are working very hard on bringing more restorative rather than punitive policies into our state's corrections system. In particular they are advocating support for AB 2590. Assembly Member Shirley N.
In San Diego the Restorative Justice Mediation Program (RJMP) offers crime victims and offenders an effective alternative to the traditional criminal justice system. Through its victim-offender dialogue program, offenders have a chance to take responsibility and make amends. Victims have a voice, an opportunity to ask questions and to describe the impact of the offense on their lives.
Tuesday is class night for a growing community of parents in Orange County. They are part of Padres Unidos, an entirely voluntary program that teaches parenting skills to dads and moms of at risk youth. Parents make a commitment to attend every Tuesday evening for 30 weeks. Child care is provided.
Restorative justice took center stage on this week's "Setting Things Right" radio show in San Diego. Debbie McDermott from the California Catholic Conference, Adam Kruggel from our organizing partner PICO California, joined Deacon Jim Walsh and other experienced voices in the restorative justice field for an in-depth discussion of the practical application and impact that these practices have on individual lives and justice systems.
Bishop Michael C. Barber has taken a leadership role in supporting community Ceasefire walks to combat violence in the Diocese of Oakland's neighborhoods. Ceasefire participation had dwindled over recent months with fewer people doing the monthly walks that call for an end to gun violence in our communities. Violence, unfortunately, was once again on the rise. Bishop Barber decided to make Ceasefire a visible part of the diocese's activities for the Year of Mercy. The attention revived energy for all.
According to a post in National Catholic Reporter's The Field Hospital blog, the faith connection is growing with Catholics on the outside and incarcerated men and women. The article cites many programs across the countyr, including the death row ministry at San Quentin, the pen pal project in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, where U.S. parishes and dioceses are reaching out to the incarcerated.