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From Criminal Justice to Restorative Justice

Through intensive services and support at Catholic Charities’ new Restorative Justice Center, Corey has become more independent.

Public transportation was not an option for Corey. He would be due to appear in court, but with mental illness and cognitive delays, even taking the local Light Rail was a challenge. With the help of the Restorative Justice Center, Corey received the supportive services needed to foster his independence and find his way.

Formerly known as the Criminal Justice Center at Catholic Charities, the new Restorative Justice Center helps adults with a criminal background who face mental health and substance abuse problems. The new Center takes a more holistic approach to healing, recognizing that program participants often turn to crime, drugs or alcohol as a result of past challenges or trauma. Through access to various social supports, the program stabilizes lives for recovery and successful reintegration into the community.

The center serves about 1,600 inmates per year through intensive wraparound services and advocacy, including transportation to medical appointments or courts, as well as access to social workers or therapy. The goal is to reduce recidivism and assure that clients do not return to the hospital or become homeless.

Moving from criminal justice to restorative justice, Catholic Charities has expanded this work to collaboratively meet the needs of clients and families, as children or family members across programs often have a parent or significant other who is incarcerated. The new Center helps families through a combination and vast array of services, including employment, expunging records, counseling, individual or family legal services, and housing.

“The Restorative Justice Center provides more services depending on where clients are at, bringing the employment piece, the academic piece, and a place where they feel they are not criminals,” says Sandra Escobar, newly-appointed Senior Director of the Restorative Justice Center.

Through intensive services and support, Corey has gained the ability to independently arrive to programs and court on his own. A year and a half ago, he had no idea where he was going.

Through the Restorative Justice Center, Corey is now staying away from drugs, building a relationship with his mother and brother, and finding a place for himself.

To learn more please contact Sandra Escobar, Senior Director of the Restorative Justice Center at sescobar@catholiccharitiesscc.org.