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The California Conference for Equality & Justice is a Southern California leader in Restorative Justice practices.
We recognize and honor the capacity for growth and transformation in all people, with a special focus on youth. With this belief as a guiding principle, we partner with communities and schools to grow cultures which encourage both connection and rigorous accountability. As part of our commitment to intervene in the school-to-prison pipeline, we work with schools and law enforcement organizations to find alternatives to punishment.
What Are Key Restorative Practices & Tools?
Restorative Justice uses dialogue in circles as both a proactive practice to prevent conflict as well as to respond to conflict and disciplinary matters. In our Community Building Circle work, we support and facilitate circles designed to build connections and deepen existing relationships, so that people can feel accountable to each other.
After an incidence of harm, Restorative Justice uses Harm & Conflict Circle or Restorative Community Conferencing practices to ask the person who caused harm to take responsibility for their actions, help the harmed person to heal, and involve the community as a whole to offer support and encouragement.
Why Restorative Justice in Schools?
Restorative Justice is a key intervention in punitive systems which harm our communities and have not been proven to increase school safety or improve educational outcomes.
*Students who are suspended are 3 times more likely to drop out of school, and more likely to be incarcerated.
*Schools enforce overly punitive discipline polices against students of color and special needs students more than others.
- Students with disabilities are 2 times more likely to be suspended than non-disabled students.
- Black students are 3.5 times more likely to be suspended than white students, Latino/a students are twice as likely to be suspended than white students.
- Foster youth are three times as likely as their peers to be suspended or expelled.
*Restorative Practices work to prevent future harm. In our partner schools, we have seen significant decreases in fighting, bullying and willful defiance after RJ implementation, as well as decreases in suspensions and expulsions.
School-Based Training, Technical Assistance & Circle Support
CCEJ offers a variety of in-depth, experiential Restorative Justice trainings for community members, legal & law enforcement professionals, school staff and youth. We are proud to say we have trained hundreds (thousands?) of people across Los Angeles County & Southern California.
After training, we also work with schools in long term partnerships to plan implementation, coach teachers and administrators, co-facilitate circles, offer supplemental professional development and support Restorative school policy development.
We have extensive experience with a variety of contexts and demographics, including middle and high schools, public and charter settings, and alternative and credit recovery/continuation schools. We are particularly committed to working with sites where there are high concentrations of young people who are currently and historically targeted by schools pushout, including LGBTQ+ students, students of color, students with disabilities and students who are eligible for free or reduced-priced lunches.
Restorative Community Conferencing (RCC)
An Alternative to Prosecution and Incarceration
CCEJ’s Restorative Community Conferencing (RCC) program is a post-arrest, pre-adjudication diversion program with the purpose of diverting youth away from the criminal justice system, and toward more meaningful and appropriate methods of accountability. CCEJ meets youth at a crossroads, taking them out of the criminal justice system and giving them a real opportunity to make amends and get back on track.
Picture a room filled with love, concern, and individuals committed to creating an environment where young people are held in high esteem and accountability even when their actions have caused harm to another. RCC asks who has been harmed by this action. RCC creates and establishes community to bring people together to find collective solutions when harms are committed. RCC focuses on repairing the harm by addressing the needs of the person harmed and the needs of those impacted and affected. RCC creates meaningful agreements to make things as right as possible including restitution. RCC brings people together to promote understanding and begin the healing process. RCC is about accountability and responsibility.
For more information on this program or to learn how to get involved as a volunteer, please contact Sara Omojola, Director of Restorative Justice Diversion Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Restorative Practices in Community (RPIC):
Our RPIC Program utilizes facilitated dialogue grounded in restorative justice principles as well as mediation practices as a key intervention model and alternative to traditional forms of punitive systems. After an incidence of harm or conflict, RPIC creates the space for those impacted to meet together and share their story, take responsibility for the collateral harm their actions may have caused or express how the harm has effected them and create agreements that support what meaningful justice looks like to them. We value the wisdom and power of a restorative circle to uncover healthy next steps for healing as well as sustainable solution-making and healing around an issue.
With a focus on relationships, we create a space that shifts the paradigm from narrow punishment to a holistic healing and accountability model. The restorative circles are focused on promoting understanding of the impact an incident has caused, healing damaged relationships and restoring healthy connections between participants. The process uses a method of sitting in circle and is designed to reveal underlying issues, conflicts, and wounds that are often at the root of harmful behavior.
Participants are led to propose their own solutions to resolve the underlying conflict. Participants are asked to reach a consensus decision that fits the unique circumstances and issues raised in each case. This promotes personal accountability, as community members are empowered to work together and self-correct, instead of relying on others to resolve their problems. In addition, this gives the participants a meaningful opportunity to design and solidify a sustainable safety net to help prevent future conflicts. The process encourages the inclusion of people who are not traditionally considered “parties” to a conflict, such as mentors, friends, outside family members and sometimes community service providers to offer support, accountability and encouragement.
We offer the ability for individual community members, families, judicial systems or community agencies at-large to refer their case at any stage of conflict. Our program organizes its cases under two main categories: community-based conflict or victim-offender.
Community-based referrals facilitate restorative circles for: conflicts that have not escalated to legal consequence – or – conflicts which a judicial case has legally closed but there are longer term needs to be negotiated or healed in response to a past incident.
Victim-offender referral services work with the referring judicial agency and/or affiliated service provider and facilitate either an alternative diversion process for the person who has committed a crime and those who have been harmed by that action or a facilitated intervention surrounding additional conflicts that may arise within an already active legal proceeding.
There is a period of case management after circle agreements are created and the judicial agency receives a report once the case has successfully been completed.
These are voluntary processes for all participants.
Where we serve:
CCEJ is a contractor for the Los Angeles County Dispute Resolution program coordinated by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations (LACCHR). Our RPIC program primarily provides conflict resolution services to residents of South Los Angeles, Long Beach and Greater Los Angeles geographic areas. This program is free or low-cost to community.
RPIC currently offers case referral services for community members, families, schools, law enforcement agencies, youth group homes, housing authority agencies and court systems. Our cases range across diverse conflicts such as, but not limited to: school bullying, assault, burglary, low level drug offenses, property vandalism, child custody issues, family reunification process, re-entry support, family based conflict, neighbor disputes, school truancy.
Case Referral Process:
To make a case referral, please contact our program director, Vanessa M. Petti: email@example.com; (562) 435-8184.
Your request will be quickly reviewed and an over the phone or in-person intake session will be scheduled. Upon moving forward with a case, each individual will participate in circle preparation sessions. A staff member and a trained community volunteer will facilitate the mediation and/or restorative justice process. Circle process itself may resolve in one session however often times, take a series of circles. We can accommodate for evening and/or weekend circles. A period of case management is available after healing steps and agreements are decided upon.
Mediation Certification Training (25hour):
CCEJ offers an annual 25-hour mediation certification training. Our training introduces the core principles and methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution. The training is designed to mediate community disputes including neighbor, workplace, organizational partnership, and interpersonal conflicts. During this training participants will be introduced to principles and concepts of Restorative Justice Practices. This training complies with the DRPA 25 hour training regulations. To sign-up for an alert for our future 2017 Mediation Certification Training, please contact our program director, Vanessa M. Petti: firstname.lastname@example.org; (562) 435-8184.
“Healing Harms” Restorative Justice, Circle Keeper Volunteer Training (50 hour):
This annual 50-hour training experience prepares community members to co-facilitate circles for our restorative justice case referral program. Participants develop and learn the skills necessary to be a circle keeper for cases diverted from police departments, courts and juvenile justice related systems. Through this training, you will gain a deepened understanding of restorative justice philosophy and practical experience co-facilitating restorative circles for our diversion programs. You will explore tools to create a space for families and community to come together and collectively determine meaningful healing steps when harm or conflict occurs.
Upon completion of our training, volunteers have the opportunity to co-facilitate community mediation sessions and/or restorative justice circles for both our RCC and RPIC Case Referral Programs. We require a one year commitment from our volunteers.
To sign-up for an alert for our future 2017 “Healing Harms” training, please contact our program director, Vanessa M. Petti: email@example.com; (562) 607-1215
Key Team Members:
- Daniel Solis, Associate Executive Director
- Sunshine Daye, Community Policing
- Vanessa Petti, Director of Restorative Practices in Communities
- Belia Saavedra, Director of Restorative Justice in Schools
- Gabrielle Thurmond, Restorative Justice Strategist and Trainer
- Gilbert Salazar, Restorative Justice Strategist and Coach
- Tanya Suzuki, Restorative Justice Strategist and Coach
- Joseph Luciani, Restorative Justice Specialist
- Jenny Escobar, Restorative Justice Coordinator
- Pierre Davis, Restorative Justice Coordinator
- Taharka Anderson, Restorative Justice Coordinator
- Alejandro Haezaert, Restorative Practices in Communities Case Manager
- Rachel Baker, Restorative Practices in Communities Case Manager
- Jamelle Fortune-Turner, Restorative Practices in Communities Case Manager