Restorative Justice Group & Center is a seeding organization envisioned to provide a place where neighborhood residents can come for help in situations of violence and conflict.
What is restorative justice?
It’s a set of questions combined with certain community practices. While “retributive justice” asks What law was broken? Who is guilty? and Who should be punished or imprisoned? Restorative Justice is a community-based process which asks instead, Who was harmed? Who is responsible? How can things be made right and the community made whole? It is a lively process often being invented and reimagined. See the information sheet, Restorative Justice Basics, for a fuller description.
The Corktown restorative justice group was initiated following the October 2010 beating of one homeless member of the Corktown community by a resident member. Charges were brought in that case and a trial in that case is anticipated by year’s end. But in the wake of the incident, concerned that this represented a pattern of violence and harassment against street folks, some 40 people gathered to explore alternative forms of community justice.
So Far – Accomplishments
Since that time a number of things have been accomplished:
- an open letter to the community was circulated
- benches in Savage Park which had been systematically destroyed were rebuilt cooperatively by neighborhood residents
- members of the group began training in certain practices of restorative justice
- resource materials were gathered and outreach materials developed
- groundwork was laid for connections to networks and other groups in the city engaging similar efforts such as Peace Zones for Life
- support was sought to open a Restorative Justice Center in the neighborhood
- a chronicle of events reflecting a pattern of violence and harassment against street folk in the neighborhood has been kept
- a open dinner was hosted on the anniversary of the notorious beating to share locally grown food and discuss the work of the group
- guests at Manna Meal developed a Kitchen and Street Code for posting and circulation among themselves..
Neighborhood and Kitchen Peace Code
This is posted in the kitchen and soon to be circulated on street “business” cards:
- Be respectful of one another
- Watch out for each other
- Pick up behind yourself and others in neighborhood and kitchen.
- Help cool down arguments.
- Be a good neighbor in the hood.
- This is our community and kitchen.
A Restorative Justice Center – in a city-wide context
Seed funding has been secured to open a Restorative Justice Center in the Peace and Justice Hub currently being created in the St Peter’s Episcopal Church Parish Hall. A Steering Committee is beginning to envision a place where neighborhood residents can come for help in situations of violence and conflict. It will be run with paid and volunteer staff, offer regular trainings in rj practice, keep a small store and library of resource materials; and participate in city-wide networks among other things.
This project is seen to be in the context of a wider movement in the city of Detroit where restorative justice projects are being developed on many fronts:
- The Peace Zones for Life program of the Coalition Against Police Brutality
- The Inside/Out project connecting UofM students with prisoners in the Ryan Road Prison, to develop RJ there
- The Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Racial Inequality which was recently seated and represents restorative process on a city-wide scale
- State-wide and city-wide networks of rj practitioners recently formed.
- Certain judges and prosecutors are open to the development of community-based Victim-Offender programs
How to get Involved
At present there is a regular meeting the first Wednesday of the month 11:00am at St Peter’s Episcopal which includes Corktown residents, guests at Manna Meal kitchen, and others working in the community. In addition to planning, we monitor conflict and harassment in the neighborhood and work on ways that kitchen guests can themselves be better neighbors.
We also meet periodically in the evenings to welcome those who can’t make daytime sessions. If you would like join this work and be notified of activities call 313-841-7554 or email either email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Learn more about Restorative Justice and share the word through the hand out below.
Restorative Justice Basics handout