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News from C4RJ

H1313 Legislative Hearing update

Thank you so much to all who attended the 9/16/15 legislative hearing at the State House. We had over 20 people there in support of our bill. We had such moving testimony shared and I thought I'd offer some highlights (and heartfelt thank yous) to update those who were not able to make it or were not able to stay until the bitter end:

- The bill was scheduled before the Judiciary Committee as part of a criminal procedure hearing (1-5pm). They had a full plate of 69 bills, and some of those were a little controversial. There were over 100 people present in the hearing room and the full Committee and staffers were there for most of the afternoon. The room was so full that they decided to open a second adjacent hearing room for overflow seating and that room was full!

- It was after 3:00pm that our team had a chance to present but we started the hearing with a bang! Representative Garballey (D-Arlington & West Medford; chief sponsor of the House bill) presented on a panel with Chief Ryan from Arlington and Judge Cratsley (ret.). This was very powerful not only because Representative Garballey was sitting with his police Chief but also because Chief Ryan gave a first-hand account about how a no-nonsense police officer was converted into believing in restorative justice through sitting in a circle. Then Judge Cratsley followed with a powerful statement about how as a district and SJC Judge in Massachusetts there were many occasions where he wished he had restorative justice as an additional tool during cases and for sentencing. This panel took almost 15 minutes, which was impressive and especially powerful because there were 5 uniformed officers from C4RJ towns standing behind the panel in support. Thank you panelists and to Lt. Cleary, Det. Sowle, Det. Evelyn, Ptl. Rosenberg and Det. Camilleri and Det. Jones!

Other leaders who verbally endorsed H.1313 were: Cory Atkins (D- Carlisle, Concord, Chelmsford), Timothy Toomey (D- Cambridge and Somerville), and Chief William Brooks III (Chair, MA Chiefs of Police Association, Legislative Committee).

We were also able to provide the Committee with written testimony from our panelists as well as: Marian Ryan (Middlesex District Attorney), Chief Brian Kyes (Mass Major Chiefs Association), Dave McMahon (Dismas House and Worcester Homeless Action Committee), and the 12 C4RJ Chiefs of Police: Chief Widmayer (Acton), Chief Ryan (Arlington), Chief Bongiorno (Bedford), Chief Ryder (Boxborough), Commissioner Haas (Cambridge), Chief Fisher (Carlisle), Chief O’Connor (Concord), Chief Palma (Groton), Chief Corr (Lexington), Chief King (Littleton), Chief Bosworth (Stow), Chief Cunningham (Wellesley). Thank you all!

It was another few hours before the MA Restorative Justice Coalition panels had a chance to present at 6:30pm!

Thank you to: Chandra Banks (Cambridge Public Schools) who read testimony from one of her students, Kamaria Gooding. The others who gave personal testimony were: George Halfkenney (THRIVE Communities), Erin Freeborn (C4RJ), Mark Seifried (UCC), Susan Maze-Rothstein (Northeastern University School of Law) and a young man from Boston College School of Theology. We were able to present to: Rep. Day (D- Stoneham, Winchester), Rep. Tucker (D- Salem), Sen. Brownsberger (D- Boston, Belmont, and Watertown), Rep. Fernandes (D- Hopedale, Mendon, Milford, and Medway), Rep. Cronin (D- Brockton and Easton), and Rep. Harrington (R- Ayer, Ashby, Dunstable, Pepperell, Townsend).

The Committee seemed favorable and had friendly conversation with the final MARJC panels. This is one added benefit to being at the end of the day. The Committee appreciates those who remain to testify and are able to engage you a little more.

Thank you also to individuals who trekked into Boston and put up with the Medal of Honor traffic!  We appreciate you and your dedication!!! C4RJ Board Members - Jeff Campbell, Di Clymer, Margot Fleischman. Kim Yeasir (THRIVE Communities), Cathy Hoffman (Cambridge Restorative Justice), Charlotte Simpson (Resolve to Stop the Violence Project) Zhenxi Qi and Jack Green (Dismass House), and Lori Kenschaft (First Parish Arlington).

An extra special thank you goes out to Lauren Rosenzweig Morton who met me at the Sate House at noon and finished stuffing packets, signed up speakers, and saved seats. Another very special thank you goes out to Emily Wheeler who helped make copies and put together the packets. We couldn’t pull this off without everyone’s help. Once again, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Deep apologies if I missed anyone!

Please continue to follow-up with your legislators asking for support of S71 and H1313 especially if you know people who are constituents of the members on Senate Ways and Means https://malegislature.gov/Committees/Senate/S30?generalCourtNumber=189 and the Judiciary Committee https://malegislature.gov/Committees/Joint/J19 . (By the way, Brownsberger is on both!)

Great work, team!

Erin V. Freeborn

Executive Director

Communities for Restorative Justice




RJ and Criminal Justice Reform

Communities for Restorative Justice was showcased in the Acton-area League of Women Voters forum on Criminla Justice Reform in February. To see video of the event, click here. More than 50 people attended the evening event at Acton Town Hall. Senator Jamie Eldridge was the emcee and presented the six priorities of the Harm Reduction and Drug Law Reform Caucus, one of which is restorative justice, embodied in SD1001 and companion bill HD 2089, An Act to Promote RJ.


Restorative Justice:

Theory Meets Application


Harvard Negotiation Law Review Symposium


For the first time ever, the Harvard Negotiation Law Review chose restorative justice as the topic of their 2015 Symposium, which took place on February 28th. Our own executive director, Erin Freeborn, and Board member, the Hon. John Cratsley (ret.), were among the panelists.


Judge Cratsley spoke on the topic “Is Restorative Justice Victim-Centered in Practice?,” and Erin spoke on a panel called “Empowering Youth through Restorative Justice.”  Click here for links to video.


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