Waldo & Knox County Community News and Program Updates!
In Waldo County, we offer restorative conferences for juveniles and adults for cases which are offered a court diversion option. We also support community recovery support circles with VOA and the Reentry Center.
RJP Maine Program and Community Updates- Summer 2020
Summer 2020 forced all of us at RJP Maine to adapt, and the same goes for my work at the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center. Though safety measures imposed due to Covid- 19 have limited interaction between residents and the greater community, restorative practices have continued to grow at the center over these last few months. In June a group of interested staff and residents came together to launch a Restorative Practices (RP) Leadership Team and split up into subgroups based on interest in four categories: Community Building, Restorative Response, Community Reintegration, and Policy. Each subgroup consists of at least one staff member and one resident, and some have up to six members, including Correctional Staff. In late June each group met to create goals for fiscal year 20’-21’ to support the longterm growth of RP at the center. For example, one of the goals of the Community Building Team is to offer regular community building circles for staff and residents. The Restorative Response Team is currently focused on studying the limitations of punishment around the world, before looking more closely at MCRRC’s own disciplinary procedures. The Community Reintegration team looks at what type of reentry support is needed for residents returning to their communities and are looking at ways of building support circles into each resident’s individual reentry plan starting on the first day they enter the facility. I have been going back into the Reentry Center to facilitate leadership team meetings and community building and support circles since July, and I have been incredibly impressed by all the residents and staff staying positive amidst the overwhelming stress of Covid-19. If you are looking for ways to support residents during their time at the center, consider coming to the Community Recovery Support Circle on Tuesday mornings at 7am. We hold this circle via zoom for reentry residents, staff, RJP Maine volunteers and community members. Whether you are in recovery or not, this circle is an opportunity for personal growth (and I think we can all use a little bit of that!).
- Working on designing the law enforcement diversion pilot for Waldo and Knox Counties with our partners at the Health Equity Alliance (HEAL) and the Waldo and Knox County Sheriff's Departments! What is law enforcement diversion, you ask?! Traditionally, officers have limited options available to them when they respond to a call for assistance: they can work to provide assistance by diffusing the situation in the moment or they can charge someone, and either summons or arrest. Increasingly, officers and the public are aware that sometimes these responses are unable to address the root cause of the call - particularly when mental health or substance use are part of the equation or if it's a long-standing conflict. In this pilot, officers are provided a third option: to divert the call to community-based service for attention. This could take the form of either targeted case management (to address unmet needs someone may have in the realms of mental health counseling, recovery support, access to food or housing, etc), or restorative justice, or both - in situations where that is relevant. HEAL and RJPM are dedicated to working effectively together so that individuals can get their needs met and, once they are in a position where they are able to engage in facilitated conversation around conflict and harm, that can happen through RJPM. The design phase of this pilot consisted of writing policy and procedure; consulting with the national LEAD Bureau (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) and the Longmont Community Justice Partners in Longmont, Colorado, as well as new Waldo County Community Liaison, Rob Porter; formation of law enforcement Diversion Advisory Committee from each county; and assembling an informational flyer and referral form with Waldo County RJ Coordinator, Karin Wittmann, and terrific interns Hadriane Hatfield and Amy Frankel. This new formal referral stream to our long-standing Community Resolution Program is sponsored by a grant from the Department of Public Safety, and we look forward to launching this pilot this fall!