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New Restorative Justice Community Court to 0pen in Englewood with Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

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CHICAGO, IL -The Circuit Court of Cook County is holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Wednesday, September 16, to launch its new Restorative Justice Community Court in the Englewood neighborhood, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced today.

This new court, the first on the city’s South Side, follows the success of the state’s first Restorative Justice Community Court in the North Lawndale neighborhood, launched in 2017. Both the Englewood court and a new Avondale community court open this week.

The Englewood court will be held at the Salvation Army’s Adele and Robert Stern Red Shield Center, 845 W. 69th Street, and the ribbon-cutting is set for 9 a.m., Wednesday, outside the building’s entrance. Attendees should wear facial coverings and maintain social distancing.

The community court resolves conflicts through restorative conferences and peace circles involving defendants, victims, family members, friends, others affected by the crime, and the community. Victims have the opportunity to directly address the defendant to express how they were hurt and what they need to heal from the crime.

Defendants must repair the harm caused by their actions. This may involve community service, or other requirements. If one of the defendant’s problems is substance abuse, they also must go through a program to address that issue. Members of the community were extensively involved in the development and planning of the RJCC.

For a case to be eligible for the court, the victim of the crime must agree to participate in the process. In addition, the person charged must:
Be 18 to 26 , Have been charged with a nonviolent felony or misdemeanor, live in one of the neighborhoods near a community court , Have a nonviolent criminal history, Accept responsibility for the harm caused

Cook County Circuit Court Judge Donna Cooper is the steward of the Englewood court and will oversee decisions on community-based sentences and treatment for the defendants.

Defendants who successfully complete the program may have the opportunity to have their charges dismissed and their arrest and court records expunged.

Since its opening in August 2017, the North Lawndale Restorative Justice Court has worked with 135 participants. About 64 have officially graduated from the program or have successfully completed the process and are waiting for the next graduation ceremony, which has been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Public officials invited to the Englewood ceremony include Judge Evans; Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx; Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli; and Aldermen David Moore, Jeanette Taylor, Roderick Sawyer, Stephanie Coleman and Raymond Lopez. Also invited are representatives of community organizations, including Teamwork Englewood and the Resident Association of Greater Englewood.

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