When I was 23 years old, a stranger entered my apartment while I was sleeping. He tied my hands, blindfolded me, and gagged my mouth before committing sexual battery while armed with a weapon. This experience had a profound effect on my career and my life. A year after a plea bargain and a lengthy prison sentence resolved the criminal charges I resigned from my job in city planning and accepted a full-time position as a crime victim advocate. It is a career that began in 1985 and it provided me with a range of ways to participate in victim rights committees, legislation, and training development at the local and state level. Throughout my career I felt and saw the inadequacy, the challenges, and the impact of an adversarial criminal justice system. In 2006, I wrote a screenplay that was developed into a short film, Somewhere Beyond, a fictionalized story of a RJ dialogue with the offender in my case.
After I retired as the Director of Victim Services at the State Attorney’s Office in 2017 I began to explore and practice restorative justice. One of my favorite projects involved collecting and publishing 500 survey responses about the awareness people convicted of felonies had about restorative dialogues and, whether respondents (men and women) wanted to consider RJ in their personal cases. (See attachment)
In the past 6 years, I have worked on 115+ RJ cases involving death, sexual harm and other serious harm cases. I invite people to consider a RJ if it safe, and they are interested in figuring out repair and accountability because I have witnessed what is possible to gain, rebuild, and address through facilitated dialogues. For everyone in a circle of understanding -- facing, listening, and speaking to each other calls for risk and courage. It calls for awareness and respect for what one has to look at, again, and what one has to offer. After nearly 4 decades of justice related experience I remain committed to the belief that for justice to occur every survivor deserves many opportunities to heal from a crime, and every person responsible for harming someone deserves options, resources, and support to become accountable and express remorse, through their actions.