Restorative Justice Project Maine
VISTA Member Draft Description
Dates of Service September or October of 2020 for 1-year with option for renewal up to three years.
Role of the member during the term of service
The Member will have a diverse and interconnected experience with all aspects of the organization’s structure, delivery framework, fund development and data evaluation.
Joining a 12-member team, the VISTA volunteer will work closely with the Special Projects Manager and be assigned a variety of projects throughout the year. We intend to offer a diverse experience supporting RJPM in building capacity to develop Community Justice Center’s across the region, and growing community engagement in the mid-coast area.
The VISTA will receive a 42-hour certificate in the foundations of restorative practices, restorative interventions and circle keeping to better inform their work with the organization and community, and life long learning experiences and skills within the restorative justice field.
Community Engagement. Engagement includes volunteer recruitment and support, attendance at community meetings, targeted research and/or projects as they relate to programs and raising awareness about restorative justice in the mid-coast and statewide.
Community Resolution Program
Provide support for the Coordination of juvenile and adult case referrals from the Department of Corrections Juvenile Services, Prosecutorial District 6 and local Law Enforcement agencies. Member will spend time with the program coordinator and key volunteers.
Community Justice Centers
Support special projects of the newly formed Community Justice Center as they relate to juvenile and adult cases referrals, participant continuum of care and raising community awareness of the meaningful roles that community volunteers can take on to participate more fully in the process of justice. Assist with the collection and reporting of data for the grants.
Provide support to the Executive Director and Fund Development Director with ongoing activities that financially ensure RJP Maine’s fund development goals.
Attend weekly staff meetings, complete VISTA reporting, meet with supervisor regularly and other needs/interests as they arise.
This is a very exciting time for restorative justice here in Maine! In the fall of 2019, RJPM received a Innovations in Community-Based Crime Reduction Program grant for one million dollars, over 4-years to develop our Community Justice Centers, our regional District Attorney ran on a restorative platform, legislatively there is work being done to establish explicit use of RJ within the justice system, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion partnership and state wide interest continues to surge.
We are confident that we can provide an excellent experience for 1 or 2 VISTA members to join a dynamic and exciting time here at RJPM!
AmeriCorps VISTA Benefits
• Stipend of $954 per month throughout the 12 month term ($1,174 in Cumberland and York Counties)
• Choice of $6,195 education award or $1,800 cash stipend upon completion of service
o Education award can be to pay off qualified loans, or for educational expenses at Title IV schools
• Forbearance of federally qualified student loans during service term (interest paid by AmeriCorps)
o Some private loans (you must call lender to ask)
• Health Benefits (go to link below for more details)
• Workers Compensation Coverage
• Child Care Reimbursement (if income eligible)
• 10 days of sick leave and 10 days of vacation leave
• Relocation Allowance for service for those who relocate 50 miles or more (from their home of record)
o One time relocation allotment of $750 and reimbursement for travel costs (baggage shipment, mileage reimbursement if driving a personal vehicle)
• Non-competitive eligibility for Federal Jobs for 1 year after your term of service
• Networking/professional development
• Mileage reimbursement to AmeriCorps sponsored training events
• Mileage reimbursement for project/site related travel consistent with staff reimbursement at the site
• Usually eligible for Food Stamps (SNAP) – should apply for benefit before starting VISTA term
If Interested, please contact:
AmeriCorps Program Coordinator ll
Goodwill Industries of Northern New England
190 Lancaster St. Suite 200
Portland, ME. 04101
https://www.facebook.com/GoodwillAmeriCorpsServes/ for more information and to apply.
VISTA Member Overview
July 17, 2020
#3 Briefly describe organization and the community it serves
Founded in February 2005, The Restorative Justice Project of Maine is 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides restorative programming and services across a comprehensive continuum of prevention, intervention and reintegration efforts. RJPM was conceived as a grass-roots citizen effort to promote alternatives to punishment, isolation and incarceration in favor of collaborative, non-adversarial processes focused on accountability, support and healing - inviting those most directly affected by harm to the center of determining a resolution. The project is the longest running restorative justice organization in Maine, founded and launched entirely through volunteer efforts and private investment.
Over the last 15 years, the organization has worked tirelessly to provide and model quality restorative programming and champion the spread of restorative practices throughout the state. We’ve trained and supported many of the practitioners working across the state, including hundreds of community volunteers, and have seen the Juvenile Division of the State Department of Corrections evolve their programming toward restorative interventions whenever possible, including with youth at the state’s juvenile facility. The District Attorney’s office working with RJPM refers adult cases through their deferred disposition sentence encouraging participation in the conferencing process. Conferencing brings together persons harmed with the offender to repair the harm, understand the impact and offer amends with community support.
RJPM partners with Maine’s K-12 school systems and community organizations, building capacity in the use of restorative practices through training and coaching support. Restorative practices in schools helps build strong relationship based communities and decreases the negative impact of punishment on students. In 2018, RJPM launched a 42-hour cohort-based foundational training in partnership with the University of Maine Hutchinson Center in Belfast, ME.
RJPM is completely committed to preventing and reducing the impact of crime and harm by furthering the use of restorative practices so that solutions can be applied in any setting where a relational, non-adversarial problem solving process would be of benefit in preventing, reducing and repairing the impact of crime and wrongdoing.
#2 How will your project and the work of the VISTA member aim to reduce poverty with clients you serve?
The focus of the work inevitably serves those most affected by the criminal justice system in rural areas, where poverty and those who are disenfranchised result in the highest system involvement.
At RJPM, the majority of people referred to us have experienced some form of poverty, whether generational, situational, or working-class. Poverty stereotypes and judgments must be challenged in order to break down barriers. Inequality is a growing problem in the area, exacerbated by a lack of affordable housing and employment opportunities. According to a study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Maine renter would have to earn $18.73 an hour to be able to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment, but the average wage for a renter in Maine is $11.44 an hour, leaving a gap of $7.29 an hour, the ninth highest in the nation.
By providing alternative interventions RJPM is reducing the number of individuals who become more deeply and systematically involved with the justice system by helping people to navigate the justice system, be heard and to have a second chance.
The VISTA member will work closely with the Community Resolution Program seeing first hand the impact of poverty within the criminal justice system and incarceration. Their role will support access to resources, an understanding of restorative justice as an alternative and increase awareness of community resources. When invited RJPM works with the whole family unit to address what has happened and together resolve the situation.
Additionally, RJPM’s reentry program has been a driving force for building trust, acceptance, and positive relationships between incarcerated residents of the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center and Belfast’s city residents and business owners. Creating highly collaborative working relationships across a diverse set of stakeholders, some of whom are in deep conflict with each other, is at the heart of restorative work.
#3 Special consideration may be given to sites that combat the opioid crisis or are veteran focused. If yours does, please explain how and if the VISTA member’s service will directly contribute to that.
RJPM’s focus is not directly targeting the opioid crisis or veteran arena. However, many of the clients and families we work with live with the chaos and impact that opioids and PTSD can have on families.
The member working with the program director may do research to assist individuals seeking services in those areas and attend the Waldo County Recovery Committee circles if interested.
‘The Waldo County Recovery Committee, partnered with the Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center and the Restorative Justice Project Maine, holds a Community Recovery Support Circle every Tuesday. Whether you are in recovery or not, this circle is an opportunity for personal growth;
Everyone is welcome! Come prepared to listen, reflect on your own experiences, and share from your own perspective if you so choose.”
RJPM is working in partnership with Health Equity Alliance to pilot a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, is an effort to make meaningful interventions on the opioid epidemic locally by connecting people to targeted case management, mental health and recovery supports, as well as to RJ in cases where that is pertinent.
This summer, RJPM has joined with Waldo County Community Action Partners and Community Food For Children, offering free meals, books and enrichment activities while school is out! The Mid- Coast Transportation Van has been making deliveries twice a week throughout the area, offering a 3 day supply of breakfasts and lunches on Mondays and offering a 4 day supply of breakfasts and lunches on Thursdays.
In addition to Waldo County Community Action Partners and Community Food For Children, individuals from Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition and Literacy Volunteers have also been involved in creating the activities and dispersing the food and books. Areas of focus have been on reading, nature, nutrition and community building.
This is an ongoing project, slated to wrap up on August 27th. Take a peek below at the enrichment activities that RJPM created specifically for this project. As you'll notice, our materials are focused on community- building. But in place of a community building- script, which is common practice in any restorative circle, we chose to create a story board. This story board encourages youth being in circle with one another outdoors and uses a talking piece, some stretching and breathing exercises to settle into circle, and three rounds of questions. These questions encourage story sharing, thoughtfulness, and deep listening and they also offer children the chance to be seen and heard.
The story board above, as well as the artwork below, were all created by RJPM summer intern, Hadriane Hatfield specifically for this project. They were created as coloring activities and were included in a scavenger hunt that focused on finding circle shaped objects out in nature! In addition to the coloring activities and scavenger hunt, kiddos were given crayons, magnifying glasses and little cloth baggies to collect their scavenger hunt treasures!
As this is an ongoing project, please check our website and social media for new updates and photos! If you are interested in receiving food delivery or perhaps you're interested in volunteering, please reach out to Cherie Merrill at 207. 338. 6809 ext. 202.