rjp public listening circles: ideas for increasing safety and a sense of belonging

Community Justice Hub launches in Waldo County with two new employees

Wed, 09/07/2022 - 1:15pm

Since 2005, the Restorative Justice Project Maine has offered restorative processes to juveniles and adults involved in the legal system, inviting the community to hold them accountable for their actions, giving voice to those who have been harmed, and creating a pathway for amends, restitution and the repair of community relationships.

But responding after police and the courts are involved isn’t enough.

“We know that we can make our communities even safer and increase well-being for all residents by using the tools of restorative justice proactively,” said RJP, in a news release. “That’s why RJP Maine is launching an ambitious project: creating Waldo County’s first Community Justice Hub, a new model for supporting each other, building community bonds and responding to conflicts and harms perpetuated in our neighborhoods. We believe that communities - and the strength of relationships within them - can best prevent crime and repair harm.”

RJP Maine supports schools, recovery residences, and other social groups to adopt restorative cultures where community building is a daily practice and harms are quickly addressed between people before they escalate. The Community Justice Hub will apply these restorative practices throughout the county, and we need your help.

Starting this fall RJP will be inviting community members to attend one of its listening circles, either in-person or online, to share their experiences and ideas about how to increase safety and a sense of belonging / mattering in Waldo County. After that, RJP will be assembling a steering team of 10 to 20 diverse representatives from the community who will work together over the course of a year to strategize on ways to reduce rural crime using a community justice hub design, with the support and education provided by RJP Maine. The Hub will be community-led, designed and implemented; “this means that we don’t yet know what final form it will take, but it will be tightly tailored to the needs and desires of the residents of Waldo County,” said RJP.

According to the release, because it is essential to know how much work is accomplished, how well, and who’s better off due to these efforts, RJP Maine has partnered with the University of Southern Maine Muskie School of Public Service to gather and interpret data supporting the development and value of this Hub. The results of their work will be shared community wide in the future.

To make this project possible, the Restorative Justice Project Maine welcomes Hanlon Kelley and Bob St. Peter to the staff. Both are long time residents of the Midcoast.

Hanlon Kelley joins RJP Maine in the role of Waldo County Community Justice Manager - a newly formed position responsible for the startup of Waldo County’s Community Justice Hub.

Kelley had the pleasure of working at RJP for five years (2013–2018), first as the Volunteer Coordinator, then as the Waldo County Juvenile Program Coordinator and Training Coordinator. In 2018, she left the staff to seek adventure and to explore more deeply her purpose in the world.

She came to understand her life’s work to be transforming the cultural narratives that keep us in isolation, and nurturing instead the narratives of interconnection and mutual support. Kelley’s other passions include gardening, birding, animal tracking, canoeing, and basketry. Hanlon lives in Freedom with her partner. Hanlon can be reached at hanlon@rjpmidcoast.org.

Bob St. Peter joins RJP Maine as the Waldo County Harm Repair Manager responsible for juvenile and adult diversion referrals from law enforcement, probation and the courts.

St. Peter has previously worked as a community organizer, athletic director, sports coach, farmer, and farmworker. Guided by a desire to do the most good, he has collaborated with people around Maine, the U.S., and internationally on community-based solutions to the persistent problems of poverty, racial injustice, and rural exodus. When he's not in the office, St. Peter can most likely be found on a basketball court or track playing, coaching, and training for the Maine Senior Games. He lives in Sedgwick with his wife and two daughters. He can be reached at bobst@rjpmidcoast.org.


"Being able to hire Hanlon and Bob as full time staff in Waldo County demonstrates how much restorative practice has grown in the Midcoast since the inception of RJP,” said Margaret Micolichek, director of Community Justice Hubs. “Expanded staff and volunteer capacity reflects a shift in how we, as a community, are thinking about conflict and how to resolve it in ways that build or strengthen community connections while repairing the harm that’s been caused. RJP’s expansion into four counties through the BCJI grant is part of an exciting cultural shift which includes people from law enforcement, schools, courts, and justice involved agencies all working together, seeing the value of this work, and finding new ways of supporting people who are struggling.”


About RJP Maine

Restorative Justice Project Maine (RJP Maine) was founded in 2005 to offer responses to crime and wrongdoing that are grounded in restorative principles. Our mission is to promote a justice that is community-based, repairs harm, and creates safety and wellbeing for all. RJP Maine is a nonprofit organization that promotes fundamental change in communities, schools and institutions and the justice system. Our programs seek renewal and safety for the community, support and healing for victims, and accountability and reintegration of the offender. For more information about RJP Maine please visit https://www.rjpmidcoast.org/.