PRESCOTT--Say you’ve been the victim of a crime. While watching your offender be sentenced to jail, or even prison, you never get the opportunity to tell the offender what you felt or how the experience changed you.
Locally, victims have that option for them, thanks to the St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program (SCVRJP), which has been in existence for over 10 years.
SCVRJP Executive Director Kris Miner explained some of the services the program offers, which include victim-offender/community conferencing, to the Kiwanis Club of Prescott Aug. 21.
SCVRJP objectives are to build a culture of peace and belonging in which victims seek a holistic, integrated sense of justice and healing for victims, along with accountability for offenders.
“Sometimes what the person got in trouble for isn’t necessarily the hardest part for the victim,” Miner said. It’s a factor to consider, she said, because the overall goal is repairing harm by how the victim experienced it.
“We try to humanize what the person did,” Miner continued. “…No matter how far down the road you are, there is time to turn it around.”
Other sessions include what the impact of driving impaired has on individuals and the community, the consequences of controlled substance use, the potential consequences of unsafe driving, effects of underage consumption and restorative response circles.
Miner remarked, with teenagers who went through the underage consumption or controlled substance sessions, they expected to be judged or lectured at. Instead, “we didn’t know we were going to be listened to,” she said.
She also talked about restorative response, which deals with families who have experienced a sudden loss of a loved one by suicide or traffic fatality, for example.
“It’s about helping people process,” Miner said. “We believe in the wisdom of lived experiences…We have volunteers willing to talk about their experiences (i.e. losing a loved one), so those who have a new loss can relate to those who have experienced it.”
Miner concluded by saying how popular Restorative Justice is becoming, as she spent this summer training people in Florida, Vermont and Texas.
For additional information or with questions, call SCVRJP at (715) 425-1100 or visit www.scvrjp.org.