BELFAST — The Restorative Justice Project of Maine has won a $924,307 grant from the Innovations in Community Based Crime Reduction program sponsored by the Federal Office of Justice Programs, galvanizing the group’s efforts to bring community-based justice centers to the Midcoast.
“Our vision is to mobilize a base of local resources, that when taken together, have the power to reduce crime, victimization, and system involvement. Working with our communities and partners, we plan to implement and test a model of Community Justice Centers across Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties which make up Prosecutorial District 6,” said Carrie Sullivan, executive director for the Project and author of the grant, in a news release.
“Once an incident reaches the hands of law enforcement, we’ve often missed opportunities for prevention. Communities have the power to help prevent and reduce crime, so we all need to be involved in repair and solutions,” she said.
According to the grant, Community Justice Centers will build safety by increasing community engagement and building networks of care around the root causes of crime especially in rural communities and for young adults. Spreading the use of restorative practices and volunteer roles will offer community members meaningful ways to become involved.
Increased collaboration among partners and service providers will improve access to community resources, and interventions of treatment and care will offer alternatives to the current responses in place. The goal of the project is to repair the impact of crime while simultaneously building the protective factors and social cohesion that benefit everyone.
“Across the Midcoast, similar efforts are already happening,” said Pinny Beebe Center, state representative for district 93 and member of the grant’s steering committee. “The grant gives us the advantage of resources to intentionally support this growth and the invaluable partnership with the University of Southern Maine which means we’ll be measuring our impact as well.”
“This award is great news for Maine,” said Mara Sanchez, who will lead the University of Southern Maine team. “This work is based on exhaustive research on national continuum of care models and best practices conducted by the Place Matters team at the University of Southern Maine, and we are excited to be a part of moving this forward. We have the potential to create a new approach to rural crime prevention and community building that could impact other communities in Maine, as well as rural communities across the country."
This 4-year, intensive effort kicks off with a planning year and will require someone to lead it. Sullivan is stepping into that role, leaving the role of Executive Director open.
“It’s with a great deal of gratitude and excitement we cross this threshold,” said Jack Williams, Chair of RJPM. “We are indebted for the leadership Carrie has provided during the past several years, and through this critical juncture of the Project’s tenure. It’s an exciting time for the organization, owed in great part to the work of its dedicated staff, volunteers, and supporters who have been steadfast in their commitment for changing the way justice happens in our communities.”
RJPM has launched a search process to find the new executive director.
“It is our top priority to find the best individual to lead and shepherd the organization into maturity amidst tremendous growth,” said Williams.
The job announcement will be posted by October 25 and RJPM encourages qualified candidates to apply.
“We welcome help and support in finding the ideal person to lead the Restorative Justice Project along this exciting trajectory and into the future,” Williams said.
Established in 2005, the Restorative Justice Project promotes a justice that is community-based, repairs harm, and creates safety and well-being for all. The Project provides restorative community conferencing for adult and juveniles in Midcoast Maine and an array of restorative services and trainings for Maine Coast Regional Reentry Center, Long Creek Youth Development Center, and for K-12 schools.
Restorative Justice Project P.O. Box 141, Belfast, ME 04915 T 207.338.2742 www.rjpmidcoast.org