Restorative justice is a big issue in America these days. It’s an important factor that could help stop the Revolving Door to Prison crisis. And, if done correctly, it could also help bring healing to victims of crime, while helping them reintegrate with society.
That’s why 80 Catholic high school students from Oregon, Nevada and California were tasked with creating handmade cards for prisoners, their families and surviving victims of crime. These youngsters need to be commended for doing their parts to make change in the world and the way we handle prison rehabilitation.
What is Restorative Justice?
This is part of the criminal justice system which focuses on providing rehabilitation for incarcerated offenders by reconciling them with their victims, and society as a whole.
Julio Escobar of the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s restorative justice ministry took the time to explain the key principles of restorative justice to the Catholic students. These key principles include:
- Encountering those affected by or involved in crimes
- Make amends and/or compensate victims for harm suffered
- Reintegrating both the victims and their offenders back into their communities
For two whole weeks, 80 Catholic teens from various schools met with Escobar at St. Mary Cathedral. As part of a Junior Pen Pal program, students from the following schools participated:
- Elizabeth Ann Seton High School (Las Vegas, NV)
- Kateri Tekakwitha High School (Santa Clarita, CA)
- Francis High School (Sacramento, CA)
- Juan Diego Parish (Portland, OR)
- Our Lady of the Lake (Lake Oswego, OR)
Teens Do Their Parts to End the Revolving Door to Prison
These teens were participating in a nationwide service-learning program known as Young Neighbors in Action. It uses a Catholic approach to justice and service, while balancing Catholic and scripture social teaching with consciousness of justice and direct service.
All of these teens sat a long table filled with color paper, markers and pens. They came up with general greetings for various occasions, such as Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, etc… Escobar encouraged them to open the Bibles located in the room and find inspirations scriptures to include in their messages.
The prisoner greeting cards were sent to San Francisco County Jail, San Quentin State Prison and juvenile justice system inmates. Escobar kept a fair share to use for other projects related to restorative justice.
What Do Teens Think About Restorative Justice?
Escobar asked the student to share their understandings of what restorative justice is all about these day. They were also asked to share their own ideas for putting restorative justice into action within their own daily lives.
According to Catholic San Francisco, here’s what some of them had to say:
Olivia Francis – St. Elizabeth Ann Seton High School
“Restorative justice is an attempt to reach a state of shalom by understanding and reacting to an act of crime”.
Kerri – St. Elizabeth Ann Seton High School
“Restorative justice is the restoration of basic human dignity.
A Student from St. Francis High School
“Restorative justice helps offer people who have made a wrong or violent choice the assurance of the love of God. I can relate to this because when I make a wrong choice I still want the love of God as well.
Visit Your Loved Ones in Prison
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