Restorative justice is a philosophical framework which has been proposed as an alternative to the current way of thinking about crime and criminal justice. RJNW emphasizes the ways in which crime harms relationships with the victim and the community.
Restorative Justice of Northwest Wisconsin, Inc. (RJNW) is a community-based response to connect individuals, strengthen relationships, and build safe communities through the use of restorative justice practices. It is a response to crime that is concerned with repairing the harm caused and helping all people affected. Victims often feel ignored and forgotten in the criminal justice process. RJNW attempts to look at the needs of the victim. Often times, this acknowledgment can provide a sense of empowerment for the victim. It also can provide an opportunity for restitution and vindication. This may be the only time a victim is given the opportunity to ask the offender about the crimes committed and why they were chosen to be victimized.
For the offender, RJNW gives them an opportunity to take responsibility and be held accountable for their actions. It can also ease some of the guilt and shame they may feel while making the connection back into the community possible. The offender takes responsibility and has an obligation to put right the wrongs done. After they have taken responsibly then it decided by all involved what the offender can do to make this right. This may include repairing some damage caused, paying back money that has been taken, or performing a number of community service hours.
RJNW cannot succeed without the support of the community. Community members are also affected by crime. When community members become involved in the RJNW process they are showing support and encouragement to both the victim and the offender. In short, RJNW attempts to show that crime affects more than just the victim and the offender. It also shows that crime is a violation against a victim and the community as a whole.
RJNW has been asked to think outside the box in a community with limited resources. As you will see in the pages that follow RJNW has met that request with additional programming. It has been our privilege to serve the residents of Burnett and surrounding counties.
re·stor·a·tive jus·tice - noun; a system of criminal justice that focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large.
What We Do
The Methamphetamine Diversion Program is a supervised, intensive treatment program. It is a multidisciplinary phased program designed to provide participants treatment and education that will hopefully lead to a drug-free life and to engage those who do not have a significant use history and criminal background. Methamphetamine use is being targeted due to the high prevalence in our communities and the addictive nature of this drug. No statistics are available as yet as the program began January 2017.
kNOw METH Facebook Page
The kNOw METH Facebook page was launched. It keeps the community informed on what is happening with meth both in Burnett and surrounding counties. There are stories of success, along with educational information about the drug itself.
There are stories of struggle, hope, and success by those who have firsthand experienced the devastation of meth addiction. It is a place to gather information, make connections, and foster partnerships that can aid in the battle against meth.
Included in the kNOw METH mission:
- County board proclaiming June Meth Awareness Month
- Choose life over meth yard sign campaign
- Creation “Hiding in Plain Sight” mock teen bedroom
- Weekly PSA from community leaders and members to educate and inform.
- News releases in local papers and DrydenWire.com's digital media outlet.
- Prevention curriculum in schools.
- Town halls
With meth, still being a problem, Restorative Justice of Northwest Wisconsin, Inc. introduced a meth tip line. This tip line is now available to residents of Burnett County. Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald has generously allowed us to use the Barron County number of 537-METH. All Burnett County information that is called in and reported, will be relayed to appropriate departments within the county.
This hotline number has already been used by the Burnett County community. Meth use has no boundaries, including the county line. What is happening in Burnett is happening in the surrounding counties. Many times law enforcement are working together on cases that cross lines of jurisdiction.
Hiding in Plain Sight Room
Restorative Justice has created a Hiding in Plain Sight room. This room is an awareness program for parents. It is designed to educate them on some of the things that they may be missing in their teen's room. This room is unique in that it is much more than just listening to a lecture. This is an interactive exhibit for adults only. Parents are invited to come up and look around the room. They try to identify items that could be a sign of risky behavior. Items in the room help parents to better understand that many seemingly ordinary items can have double meanings. The room may also help parents identify the warning signs of drug use before it becomes an addiction. The earlier that parents are aware, the earlier they can intervene. This can start communication with their child and help to maintain a connection when it comes to drugs and alcohol.
Technology and the Internet are making it easier to access products that are being used by youth to hide drugs and paraphernalia. There are over 50 items in this room that are directly linked to drug and alcohol use. Most items were purchased online. This room is an effort to educate and inform parents about what is in the community. The room has been to 11 different locations and has had over 400 visits to date.
Safely Serving Class
Offered twice a year after alcohol compliance checks are conducted by the Sheriff’s Office. The overall purpose of this program is to strengthen both the learning and responsibility of alcohol sellers in the setting of community support and restorative outcomes. While the immediate goal is to provide benefits to each business, the broader goal is to ensure safety and health to all of the communities in which we live.
5th Grade Prevention
In an effort to start prevention earlier with the youth in Burnett County RJNW is now offering an evidence-based curriculum program for 5th-grade students. This program is made possible by the Burnett County Department of Health and Human Services and the Burnett County Board. RJNW, Burnett Law Enforcement are partnering for this educational opportunity.
The program will be 6, 45-minute sessions. Each week there will be information provided about a drug, an activity for the students. At the end of the six sessions, the students will receive a bag full of goodies and have a chance of winning an iPad. During this class, there has been take-home work sent with the youth. When returned with parent signature their name is put in the drawing.
Teen Driving Circles
In response to the growing need to prepare teens to be safe, effective drivers, Restorative Justice has partnered with the Burnett County Sheriff's Office, Siren, Grantsburg, and Webster Police Departments to establish Teen Driving Circles for youth ages 15-19. The curriculum for teenagers used as a preventative measure to help learn safe driving habits. This program is offered to youth that have concentrated on alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and inhalants. Those are the first and most widely used by young people today. The program provided the youth with facts, tools, and resources to understand the risks of methamphetamine, as well as heroin and prescription drugs. We also focused on motivating non-use, learning to recognize pressures to use, and developing practicing skills to resist these pressures. Each week local law enforcement was present in the classroom assisting with the lessons. This was built in to build relationships with our youth and law enforcement. had their first traffic violation. In place of a traffic ticket, fine, loss of points on their driver’s license, and an increase in insurance premiums, they will participate in a driving circle.
Operation Safe Exchange
Operation Safe Exchange assists parents and family members with the peaceful exchange of their children at a safe place. It also establishes healthy exchange patterns which will, in the long run, keep families safe. The program allows children to look forward to seeing their other parent without worrying about any altercations between parents.
AODA (Alcohol and Other Drug of Abuse) Youth Educational Circles
The program is structured to be interactive and takes place in a circle meeting style. Small group discussions center around Choice’s curriculum, with participants sharing their responses with other peers and receiving feedback. Community members are also in the circle offering their life experiences. A key recovery speaker from the community shares their story of their own high-risk behaviors and how it affected their life. Education, risk reduction, and changing of behaviors are the ultimate goal of these circles. These circles are also designed for the youth to make a connection with the community and members in it. It gives them a sense of something larger than themselves. Often times making them realize their dangerous behavior has huge consequences to all.
Community Service Program is an alternative to jail placement or fines for some non-violent offenders at the discretion of the court for both adults and juveniles. Community Service fosters a sense of social responsibility for offenders. Participants are provided with a constructive means to repair the harm they have caused the community. Community Service greatly reduces the burden to the county by reducing jail expenses.
Victim Impact Panels
Victim Impact Panels consist of a small group of victims, offenders, and secondary victims of drunk driving tragedies who relate how their lives have been affected by the sudden loss of a loved one or someone they harmed. At a Victim Impact Panel, OWI offenders listen to these personal stories of the devastating effects of the decision to drink and drive. These panels are intended to change behavior while being provided a nonjudgmental setting. Program evaluations continually point out the importance of this program to the offenders.
Victim Offender Conferences
Victim Offender Conferences provide victims of crime the opportunity to meet with the offender in a safe and structured setting with trained facilitators to disclose the full impact of the crime. Victims help hold offenders accountable for their actions and help decide the best ways to repair the harm. Families of victims and offenders also participate in this process. Most referrals come from the circuit court, social services, or municipal court.
Who We Are
Restorative Justice of Northwest Wisconsin, Inc. currently has 11 Board Members: Ken Kutz (President), Joe Wacek (Vice President), Brian Sears (Treasure), Chris Sybers (Secretary), Gordy Lewis, Bridget Getts, Ron Wilhelm, Kellie Blechinger, Kayla Woody, Chris Lyman, and Bill Johnson.
Restorative Justice of Northwest Wisconsin, Inc. is a non-profit (501c3) agency that consists primarily of volunteer community members who work in many ways to help those affected by crime to find peace and healing. If you are interested in any of these programs, would like to volunteer or make a tax-deductible donation please contact our office at 7726 Rasmusen Street PO Box 510 Siren, WI 54872, call 715-349-2117, or our website www.rjnw.org and click the donation tab, or just click the button below!