Who are we?
The Community Justice Initiative (CJI) includes a neighborhood-focused array of restorative justice, alternative sentencing, and diversionary programs seeking to address the root causes of criminal behavior and achieve incarceration reduction. CJI offers compelling alternatives to incarceration for appropriate offenders and is aligned with national, state and local efforts to promote new “smart justice” prevention, intervention and diversion approaches. As part of the City Attorney’s Office, CJI only handles misdemeanor offenses.
What do we stand for?
1. Engaging and partnering with our community in the work we do. The community helps us to help them.
2. Doing work in the true interest of our community. Higher incarceration rates are not in the interest of the community, while restoring lives, neighborhoods, and environments are.
3. Creative and innovative problem-solving in the hopes of evolving our community. We treat the Prosecutor’s Office as think tank and idea lab for justice innovation.
4. Justice “workers” serve as our community leaders rather than merely prosecutors.
5. Creating a culture of civic-mindedness as we partner with our communities. Encouraging people to understand that their role in government is essential.
What do we mean by “restorative justice, diversion, and alternative sentencing?”
“Restorative Justice” draws on Maori and Native American traditions of communal healing. Through this process, the offender(s), victim(s) and other community members convene to discuss the harm that was done and how to rectify it. Restorative Justice transcends punishment. It creates space for personal and communal growth.
“Diversion” means preventing people from escalating in their criminality and exposure to the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, the standard way we process offenders often contributes to their criminality by labeling them as “criminals.” Diversion explores alternatives to prosecution through involves education, service-provision and community-based solutions. Diversion can occur at any point, before an arrest or citation all the way through post-incarceration.
“Alternative Sentencing” means substituting educational and support programs for hefty fines and jail time. The City Attorney recognizes that many misdemeanors don’t warrant prosecution and that punitive measures often don’t fix the real problems. Alternative Sentencing involves replacing the stern fist with a helping hand.