Vision of the Restorative Justice Group of First Unitarian

As we form the goals of this working group together, the Steering Committee believes it is important to ask people of color what issues need to be addressed. We have heard answers through our engagement with AMOS’s (interfaith community organizing group) criminal justice team. This team formed to address issues raised by African Americans, one example being the assault charge a Black teen was given for throwing a blackboard eraser in a classroom. Given the racial makeup of this group and our relationships therein, we feel confident that a meaningful and worthwhile path forward is to work with the criminal justice team to address their goals.

The criminal justice team’s goals are to integrate restorative justice in the schools and in the police department to keep kids of color in school and out of detention and future imprisonment. To do this with integrity, the team also has the goal of integrating these principles and practices into our many congregations. In this way, we can call for change with integrity and experience rather than with theories.

Goals

  1. To support these goals, the Restorative Justice group at First Unitarian is learning what restorative justice is so that, in turn, we can educate our congregation, and support our church in integrating these practices and principles.
  2. Many members of the group are also attending AMOS’ criminal justice team meetings the 4th Thursday of the month at 7pm at Bethel AME to connect with the wider community and be allies to our African American community members.
  3. We are starting preliminary conversations with a principal of a local elementary school to see if our church, once experienced in restorative justice practices, might be able to support the school in integrating restorative practices as an alternative response to disciplinary issues.