More than two dozen young people on Wednesday were recognized as the first graduates of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s Restorative Justice Community Court in Englewood.
The participants spent six to nine months learning conflict resolution and job skills, as well as receiving emotional support.
Michelle Day, founder and CEO of Nehemiah Trinity Rising, is a lawyer, certified mediator, minister and serves on the Governor’s Task Force on Children of Incarcerated Parents.
Through Nehemiah, Day helped draft the restorative justice implementation plan for Chicago Public Schools.
Day says that restorative justice is much more than an alternative to punishment, or a way to address harm by bringing two sides to the table to talk. It’s a model for living.
“If it is implemented in our communities as a way of life, then we will have the result of having a lot less conflicts, a lot less situations that have to be addressed through restorative justice,” Day said
In July, Chicago is playing host to the 8th Annual National Association of Community and Restorative Justice Conference. Day says the breadth of conference-goers expands every year.
“You have persons there from the faith and spirituality sector. You have people there from the government sector, from courts to government offices,” Day said. “You have people there from schools and amazingly a number of companies have started using Restorative Justice.
“As a former labor and employment lawyer, I can tell you it would’ve been helpful for people to know how to speak to people and how to treat people in ways that prevent issues,” she added.
The conference runs July 6-9.