SALINA – Make A Difference Grants are awarded as a response to emerging community needs which help to Strengthen Our Community. Salina Initiative for Restorative Justice, SIRJ, applied for and was awarded a Make A Difference Grant from the Salina Area United Way. Responding to previous feedback and recommendations, of the four program considerations for Make A Difference Grants, SIRJ applied in the area to improve programs with technical assistance and/or evaluation.
The grant application was written to work with a project researcher to develop an Assessment and Recommendations report. “After researching and discussing technical assistance and evaluation needs with a couple of consultants, Jodie Beeson, Ph.D. of Beeson Training and Consulting, was hired. Jodie submitted the results and detailed report with quantifiable data to the staff and board,” Janell Murphy, SIRJ Administrator.
Working to improve evaluation, SIRJ grant goals and outcomes are in the following areas:
- Outline procedures and people required to address each objective.
- Research and select professional standards and assessment tools.
- Review and compile data on court records and surveys for practical application.
- Interview collaborators, victims, offenders, and community members as appropriate.
- Develop recommendations for the final report based on data collected and analyzed.
SIRJ has compiled a data set of 176 cases and outcomes related to cases for analysis. Of those, 159 cases have been completed and were utilized to evaluate the outcomes, the strengths and weaknesses of the program, and recidivism. In addition to case data, information from program staff, mediators, and stakeholders provided information regarding the effectiveness of the program and information necessary for program planning.
The Outcomes Assessment included Case Processing Outcomes, Process Outcomes, and Recidivism Outcomes. The Stakeholder Input included Stakeholder Satisfaction and Case Processing and Communication. Future Opportunities include Organizational Development, Risk Assessment, Case Management, Expanding Service Options, and Collaboration.
The Salina Initiative for Restorative Justice Program (SIRJ) has provided central Kansas with restorative justice services since 2012. The program has worked in a collaborative process with the Saline County Attorney’s Office and the 28th Judicial District to provide services related to victim/offender mediation for diversion eligible juvenile offenders in the county.
Restorative justice holds people accountable for the harm caused by their criminal activity. The approach personalizes the crime by involving both the victims and the offenders in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution.
Restorative justice focuses as much on the victim and the community as on the offender. It views crime as a violation of the victim and of the community as a whole, not just a violation of state law. Agreements reached during these interventions often include financial restitution, community service and more.
“Dr. Beeson’s report and recommendations have been extremely helpful to assist our steering committee and SIRJ Advisory Board with both short-term and long-term planning for our restorative justice program. With the financial assistance of the Make a Difference Grant, we have been able to follow through on Dr. Beeson’s suggestions to expand victim-offender mediation partnerships into Dickinson County as well as collaborate with truancy programs to fulfill our mission of keeping kids in school and out of the courtroom,” said Janell Murphey.
The Salina Area United Way fights for the health, education and financial stability of all people in our community. Youth who participate with SIRJ are more likely to stay in school, thus increasing the graduation rate. Youth have been shown to avoid risky behavior when there are caring parents and adults in their lives. Youth and their families are more financially stable when there are no court costs and high legal fees to pay.