December 4, 2016

Pete HaackJustice Matters0 Comments

An interfaith network working for justice in Lawrence

The Jail Alternatives Steering Committee from Justice Matters compiled a report called “Restorative Justice at Home: the case for safe, effective alternatives to jail expansion in Douglas County”. Following is one article from the report. The entire report can be found at www.justicemattersinkansas.org

On November 14, over 100 people representing 23 congregations as well as unchurched folks came together at Immanual Lutheran Church to learn and listen to each other, persons of various races and life experience. These research groups are continuing the efforts of previous network members to address our four issues, voted upon at previous community problems assemblies: affordable housing, mental health concerns, criminal justice reform, childhood trauma and racism, our newest voted priority, which impacts most of the other issues.

The criminal justice reform and mental health committees have worked to postpone the referendum on the city’s jail expansion project until safe, effective alternatives have been reviewed by the new Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. Another accomplishment of 2015 has been the inclusion of an expert on race issues who will serve on the Council. A new opportunity has been provided for team and network members to leaflet at the jail and speak with families of persons confined there. This activity helps to educate all of us as to the many financial and emotional stresses that affect persons in our jail system. We need more network members to assist us in this important work of advocating for prisoners and their families.

A new report, entitled “Restorative Justice at Home” has been compiled by the Lawrence Justice Matters coalition. It provides background on the cost and penalties associated with incarceration, especially upon families of victims. Besides the social stigma affecting employment, families experience tremendous financial expenses, lost educational opportunities, mental health challenges like depression and isolation from community members. This document recommends restructuring prison policies, reinvesting in substance abuse programs, and stable housing. Also, removing barriers to employment and human support systems. Savings from reforms could be allocated to job training and reentry skills for success in society. This report can be made available to parishioners by request from the Justice Matters team.

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