Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Latinos Engaged in Restorative Justice

by Charito Calvachi-Mateyko

Latinos are highly represented among the incarcerated population, but they are not just standing by while this happens. Their efforts to implement restorative justice to bring healing to their communities are being noticed and being supported by promoters in this field.

Statistics show the impact that mandatory sentences, three-strikes-you’re-out, zero tolerance and the criminalization of undocumented immigrants have in this population. Lives, families and communities are being hurt forever with this situation. In Georgetown, Delaware, a family of five still is haunted by the memories of their hard-working-father being chained, detained and deported two years ago. Hope, represented in justice that heals, is brought to this communities thought.

The voices of those who learned to deal with crime and conflict in a non-violent way are also being heard to show new ways. Radio Centro, WLCH 91.3 FM, the Latino Public Radio in Lancaster, PA broadcasts in Spanish For A Culture of Peace, a 30 minute-program that tells the story of young people who have acknowledged their wrongdoing, have taken responsibility for it and have made amendments to right the wrong. Miguel Rosado is one of them. The manager of the store in which Miguel committed a crime, returned the money paid to him by Miguel as reparation, so Miguel could pay for his college tuition. Miquel is now on his way to complete his PhD so he can teach criminal justice. Miguel’s right actions inspired his victim to see him as a human with great potential.

Spaces for restorative dialogue are also being created. The Latino Initiative on Restorative Justice, a not-for-profit organization, is promoting the dissemination of restorative justice in Delaware, Pennsylvania and even Latin America. Their first conference on April 14, 2010, was attended by 100 participants from diverse fields and counted with internationally known restorative justice theorists and practitioners such as Howard Zehr, Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, Kay Pranis, Barbara Toews, Nancy Reistenberg and Patty Noss.

Listening to the radio and discussing new ways to deal with crime among interdisciplinary groups is a small but significant way to redirect our punitive system to possibilities to heal the wounds of crime effectively.

Charito Calvachi-Mateyko has spent her professional career studying, mastering and implementing established methods to promote peace and justice within society. She is a restorative justice practitioner and a passionate promoter of racial justice and the Latino culture. We are grateful for the work Charito has been doing in the field and thank her for writing the piece below for our blog.

1 comment:

  1. We once had a Restorative Justice project for first time offender juveniles in South Bend, IN. The model changed, and appears to have died out since. What a shame! I was one of several community panelists that helped offenders and offended work out restorative agreements. We did not focus on any ethnic group in particular, although we did have some Hispanic participation. How do we get this going again?