Catching Stones | October 31, 2017
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“This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’”

—Zechariah 7:9-10, NIV


“Breaking bread to break down stereotypes”

Café Momentum in Dallas, Texas, is the brainchild of chef Chad Houser. He hires employees between the ages of 15 to 19, who then participate in Houser’s 12-month life and culinary skills internship program. What’s unique about Houser’s model, however, is that all the employees are youth from juvenile detention facilities. He wants them to finish the program believing that “the sky is the limit.” Savor this wonderful story here.


Restorative Circles

Initiatives for Just Communities is a faith-based organization in Manitoba, Canada, using principles of restorative justice in its work with former and current prisoners.Through Open Circle and Circles of Support and Accountability, prisoners and former offenders are welcomed and cared for by members of society, who support them through re-entry and life after prison. Learn more about this organization and its life-changing work here.


Restoration v. Retribution

In this podcast on restorative justice, Dr. Dan Gottlieb, Ted Wachtel, and Betsaida Ortiz trace the history of modern restorative practices, looking at the importance of relationships and the healing qualities of these practices. They discuss the role of forgiveness and many perpetrators’ desire to “make things right,” emphasizing seeing the humanity in others. Wachtel and Ortiz also share their experiences with restorative practices in school, and how that involves proactive, constant relationship-building. Listen to the podcast here.


“This is not my home”

“Lifers”: prisoners serving life sentences without the possibility of parole. In this moving video, 10 “Lady Lifers” sing of their hopes, fears, regrets, and experiences. Howard Woodring, a Muncy Prison psychologist, wrote the song hoping to encourage people to reflect on and have conversations about “crime and punishment, rehabilitation and redemption.” Watch the women’s performance here, and read a follow-up article here.


“You can’t see your child because you have outstanding debt”

Joyce Davis is 64, a single mother and grandmother. In this raw, honest article, Davis describes her experience as a mother with two sons in prison—and unpaid traffic tickets. Because she owes $1,485, the Michigan Department of Corrections would not approve her request to visit either of her sons. But on Davis’ $735 monthly disability income, she cannot afford to pay her debts after settling her essential monthly payments. And so, every day, Davis struggles with the fear of not knowing her sons’ well-being and the pull of a mother’s heart to care for her children. Read Davis’ own words here.


“I’m the luckiest guy in the world”

Anthony Wright was 22 years old when he was convicted of raping and murdering a woman in 1993. He was sentenced to life in prison. The problem? Wright was innocent. He spent 25 years in prison, all the while maintaining his evidence. In 2013, DNA evidence proved that Wright was innocent. Prosecutors agreed to drop his conviction—but then turned around and decided to retry him. Lawyers from the Innocence Project were determined to prove his innocence, though, and at Wright’s second trial, a jury finally declared him not guilty. Read Wright’s moving first-person account here.


The Sentencing Project

The Sentencing Project, an organization working for fairness and efficacy in the U.S. criminal justice system, is advocating for Senate to pass the recently reintroduced Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2017. This bill would lower mandatory minimum sentencing for drug offences and allow sentencing changes to people currently incarcerated. Urge your senators to support criminal justice reform!

SEE YOU AT . . .

The 2017 National Restorative Justice Symposium

The Church Council on Justice and Corrections and the Collaborative Justice Program will cohost the 2017 National Restorative Justice Symposium in Ottawa, Ont., from Nov. 19-26. With “Inspiring Innovation” as the theme, expect new and refreshing perspectives on restorative justice at this conference. Find out more information here.