Thursday, October 18, 2007


Yesterday had to be the most interesting day of the month so far, that is saying a lot given the awesome and interesting experiences I have had lately.

My Leadership Cville class topic yesterday was criminal justice. Here is Marijean's experience from last year, I will try not to be redundant. My experience mirrors hers. This class is held at the Regional Jail, and the participants receive tours of the jail and the juvenile detention center. We also heard from Chief Longo (shout out), the second in command at the Jail and Charlie Edwards who is the superintendent of the Juvenile Detention Center. Later in the day we also heard about OAR programs-drug court, restorative justice and others. Being the dork I am I was on the edge of my seat all day, I found all of it fascinating.

My mantra of "thank goodness I live in this area" extends to the progressive programming for the people spending time in jail attempting to find ways to bring people back into the community as functioning citizens less likely to end up back in jail. Many, many areas of the state do not attempt rehabilitation or education for offenders.

While it may not be obvious, I believe our community is ultimately served by the programming, it gives offenders the opportunity to succeed after committing a crime and if successful these people may make a real difference in our community (for the better).

Dont misunderstand me, it would be incredibly naive for me to think all of the offenders can be rehabilitated- honestly. The chief gave us a small but illustrative story of a child who was in big trouble all of the time- and he said no matter what time of day or night it was, whenever someone knocked on the door, the child's guardian was drunk- and not the 'just been drinking' but actually passed out drunk- morning or night. With no models of good behavior, it takes an immense amount of self-discipline to get out of the criminal system- and to seek the intensive treatment needed (for all sorts of things)- then try to find a job or heck even go to school- the barriers to normalcy or success grow everyday and probably seem like a pipedream.

Then there are the victims of these crimes. The class didnt focus too much on victims, as is typical in the criminal justice system. David Saunier the director of the Restorative Justice program attempts to empower victims and provide a way to heal for both victims and offenders. If you have an opportunity to hear him speak- go hear him- he is an amazing speaker and so committed to the program.

The regional Jail is having an open house soon- I think it is this Sunday or next, I cant find information on it- but you should have a tour and check out what is happening at the jail.

1 comment:

Marijean said...

Jennifer -- a year later the experience is still as fresh in my mind. I'm glad you had the opportunity -- I think its a good one for people to experience so we gain a greater understanding of our neighbors and the system that is put in place to protect us, and them.