WellesleyWeston Magazine


Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: http://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/256387

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Page 147 of 211

the wrong and avoid a criminal record. Jake slumped forward, head hanging low, and listened to Meghan's mother. My grandmother's wedding band and engagement ring were taken, said "Judy." They were so beau- tiful. Since then it has been a lot of work, talking to the police. And beyond that I feel violated think- ing about him being in my home, going through my belongings, my underwear drawer. I feel sick that he was in my kids' rooms and what he did in there. Unlike the traditional justice system, which considers crime a violation of the state and repre- sents society's interests, restorative justice involves community-police partnerships that focus on the needs of victims and offenders. Cases are referred by the police using guidelines set by their own department. Juveniles or adults who commit a crime, generally a first offense, must be will- ing to take responsibility for their wrongdoing and hear directly from the victim how it impacted them, their family, business, faith group, or community. For police, district attorneys, judges, and others concerned about our overburdened courts and prisons, restorative justice can be an alternative tool that complements, not replaces, the traditional system. Programs are well-established in nearly 300 communities nationwide and internationally in the United Kingdom, South Africa, New Zealand, and elsewhere. Communities for Restorative Justice (C4RJ), a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was co-founded in 2000 by two Concord community leaders, Jean Bell and Joan Turner, and former Concord Police Chief Len Wetherbee (now retired and chief of police in Moultonborough, NH), based on a set of principles outlined by Howard Zehr, a pioneer in the field. C4RJ today collaborates with police departments in Acton, Arlington, Ayer, Bedford, Boxborough, Cambridge, Carlisle, Groton, Littleton, and Stow and Ayer District Court. The Town of Wellesley recently joined these communities. The actors portraying Jake and others in the signature "circle" meeting appear in a new short documentary, Finding Courage, produced by C4RJ. "Crime is a violation of the law, but mostly it is a violation of people," C4RJ Executive Director Jennifer Larson Sawin told me. "Restorative justice doesn't force anyone to do anything. All parties participate voluntar- ily. It works because victims have a chance to speak, to ask questions and seek repair that is meaningful to them. We've had lots of break- ing and entering cases where victims want to know if they were stalked, followed, found good works "focus on the needs of victims and offenders" 146 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | s p r i n g 2 0 1 4 144-153_WWMa14_good works_C4RJ_v2_WellesleyWeston Magzine 2/2/14 12:49 PM Page 146

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