Eau Claire (WQOW)- An Eau Claire neighborhood is stepping up to give young people who started down the wrong path a second chance. The Eastside Hill Neighborhood Steering Committee passed a resolution in support of Restorative Justice.
"Having a felony tacked on your record at a very young age can have detrimental effects on the rest of their lives, and by trying to mitigate the situation, or even reduce the impact of the erroneous or illegal activity at a young age, hopefully they can get their life back on track," said Eastside Hill neighbor Val Johnson.
Restorative Justice brings together juvenile offenders and victims to talk about what happened, in order to build bridges within a community instead of walls. Officials said by humanizing their mistakes, offenders are more likely to learn from them and less likely to make them again.
The goal is to reduce incarceration rates, even right here in Eau Claire County. With this resolution, the neighborhood is forming a committee that will discuss ways to put this in to action. One of the committee's priorities is education.
"We'll be in touch with the Restorative Justice folk, the people in the justice system, and how can we make this an alive program here in our neighborhood, and follow up on our yard signs that say hey, welcome, we welcome everyone. But we welcome them if they can follow the rules of the community. This is a chance to show some people what it means to live in community," said Steering Committee President Mark Ruddy.
The Restorative Justice program is a nationwide program with a chapter in Eau Claire County. Visit the website for more information.
Contact the Eastside Hill Neighborhood to get involved with the committee.
Posted: October 19, 2017
Eau Claire (WQOW) - After a string of break-ins throughout the Eastside Hill Neighborhood last summer, some neighbors are looking to address safety concerns left behind.
On Thursday, the Eastside Hill Neighborhood Steering Committee held a meeting to hear from the Eau Claire Police Department about whether or not property crime is up this year, or just appears that way because of social media. Members also heard a presentation from Eau Claire County Restorative Justice. Program Coordinator Tim Wavrunek explained the program is meant to serve as an adjunct to the criminal justice system by restoring some of the relationships that are broken through crimes.
Wavrunek said the program brings together victims and offenders face to face to engage with another, and try and get to the bottom of why these crimes occur. He said by putting a face and a story to the crime, it also causes the offender to put a face to their consequences.
During Thursday's meeting the committee discussed passing a resolution of support for the program, but ultimately tabled it until they have a better idea of an action plan moving forward.
The committee said the discussion is meant to provide an opportunity to make the neighborhood, and city as a whole, welcoming and safe for everyone.
"That includes everyone, every that is willing to work on community. Some of them need second chances, some need third chances. So we're saying that we cannot have authentic community unless we have some vulnerability, that's just the reality. So I'm saying as a neighborhood, yeah there's some vulnerabilities but let's look at Restorative Justice as a different model, a way that can heal a person for a lifetime," said committee president Mark Ruddy.
Eau Claire police said, because of a new record management system, reports from this year cannot be compared to years prior. Police said they do believe city wide property crimes, but said most of those cases have been solved. During the meeting, the officer present said anecdotally, crime does not seem to be unusually high in the Eastside Hill Neighborhood this year.