Restorative Justice Reentry Prep Program (RJRPP)
RJRPP is a 20-week cognitive-based, trauma-informed program for offenders incarcerated in San Diego County jails and detention centers preparing for reentry into our communities. The rudiments of the program are based on the restorative justice principles of developing accountability, recognizing harms, developing empathy and remorse, understanding victim impact and personal healing.
This program was conceived and authored by Restorative Justice facilitators in Los Angeles and Riverside Counties with many years of field experience, in collaboration with RJMP’s Inmate Education Coordinator in San Diego, Andrea Travers. Ms. Travers has years of experience in the prison system, having lead, managed and conducted training in Victim Offender Education Groups (VOEG) of the Insight Prison Project. The Los Angeles authors offer their program through the Catholic Chaplaincy program in Los Angeles to male inmates at the Los Angeles Central Jail where volunteers have worked for the past 20 years. In 2015 additions to the curriculum were made by Ms. Travers, the curriculum was copyrighted, and the RJRPP curriculum has now been successfully implemented in four local San Diego County correctional facilities.
The program is focused on reentry preparation by emphasizing increased self-awareness and teaching personal and interpersonal skill-building. It includes a two-week session on addiction and recovery. Participants also engage in a victim/survival panel where surrogate victims of similar crimes are invited to share their stories and crime experiences. This program is also preparatory for participation in a voluntary Victim Offender Dialogue post-release with either their victim (if it can be arranged) or surrogate victims of a similar crime.
RJMP is currently implementing RJRPP programs in San Diego County correctional facilities and hopes to expand to more facilities. If you are interested in becoming a facilitator of RJRPP groups, please contact our office. Specialized training is required and a yearlong commitment is expected.
Juvenile Hall Restorative Justice Circle Program
This new 4 week program, initiated in East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility in early 2017, introduces participants to the concept of Restorative Justice and helps them become aware of the ripple effect of crime on victims, families and communities and on oneself. Participants listen to young people speak about how gangs and addiction have impacted their lives, and the difference it has made to be “in recovery” and to now be able to “give back” to the communities where they once caused harm. Participants have an opportunity to think about values and what is important to them, and they will be introduced to goal setting. Stress Management and Anger Management techniques are introduced into each of the sessions.
This four week process is done using the method of a “Restorative Justice Circle.” Just as our ancestors gathered in a circle around a fire, today many young people around the country are in circles to learn to solve problems, support one another and connect to one another. Restorative Justice Circles are used today in many different settings, such as: schools, detention centers, communities.
The old Native American tradition of “a talking piece” is used, where a small meaningful object is passed from person to person in a group and which grants only the holder the permission to speak. The talking piece is helpful in many ways. The person holding the talking piece has the undivided attention of everyone in the group and can speak without interruption. It creates “space” for young people that find it difficult to speak up in a group to have an opportunity to talk but it never forces them to speak. The use of the talking piece allows for deep listening, thoughtful reflection, an unhurried pace and a full expression of emotions.