Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle Announces New Funding for Restorative Justice Programs

November 25, 2014

Effort is praised by faith and community leaders from the Reclaim Campaign

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle together with Cook County Commissioners Jerry Butler, Bridget Gainer, Jesus Garcia and Robert Steele today announced a significant investment of $500,000 for community-based restorative justice programs. Faith and community leaders from the Reclaim Campaign, a coalition calling for reforms to the Cook County criminal justice system, hailed this major commitment to restorative justice.

Restorative justice is a community-based strategy that aims to restore relationships, repair harm, and create healing in situations of conflict. As Cook County continues to face devastating levels of violence, the Reclaim Campaign and President Preckwinkle are seeking innovative ways to address violence through faith and community institutions.

“Restorative justice seeks to find solutions to disputes that might otherwise contribute to family upheaval, school expulsions, and other detrimental consequences, particularly in communities that are already struggling with violence,” Preckwinkle said. “This funding will allow for important new collaborations with local organizations which are using the restorative model to reduce violence in their communities.”

Community leaders maintain that the investment will help stem violence and save tax dollars by reducing violence and supporting community and church-based programs.

“In our parish, we face some of the highest levels of violence in the city,” said Father Larry Dowling, pastor of St. Agatha Catholic Church in the North Lawndale neighborhood on Chicago’s West side. “But we have already seen in our community how when we bring people together in peace circles and provide support for young people in trouble, we can interrupt the cycle of violence, restore broken relationships, and rebuild our families and community.”

The half a million dollar investment by the Cook County Board signals a commitment from President Preckwinkle and the Reclaim Campaign to continue to work for broader reforms of the criminal justice system to improve fairness and efficiency.