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    I write today to ask for your support. Three weeks ago, in a single day seven youths were referred to us from the Department of Corrections.* These Midcoast youth — four girls and three boys between the ages of 15 and 17 years — need a restorative process to repair harm that they were involved in. We know that these seven young people have themselves been exposed to harm: a toxic mixture of poverty, food insecurity and adverse childhood experiences. In their teen years, they are all at a pivotal time for learning how to make things right — to be accountable for their actions and grow into responsible adults.

    Our experience working with youth has shown what a profound difference it can make having an opportunity to repair harm. This winter we worked with a teen (we’ll call him John) raised with the help of his grandmother. When another teenager (we’ll call him Stephen) harmed John, John’s grandmother was skeptical about entering into a restorative process. But after Stephen completed his restorative contract and took responsibility for the harm he caused, John’s grandmother had new insights into the child who had harmed her grandson:

    “My sincerest desire is that Stephen will take this opportunity that has been given to him and really, truly learn from it, not just now, but for his whole life! Be the good person that he has shown us all he can be and not take the easy way out but continue to embrace life’s challenges with the gifts that have been imparted through this process.”

    Our work begins where harm and conflict have occurred between two parties. The restorative process gives those who have been harmed an opportunity to heal and have their voices heard, while offering hope and a second chance to those who have caused the harm. It is inspiring to see young people learn and grow through their participation in repairing harm.

    Today we are reaching just a fraction of the many youth and adults who would benefit from our restorative approach. Though receiving 7 referrals in one day is not typical, it speaks to the enormous need for our work. Our goal is for anyone, of any age and at any time, 

    ● to have easy access to a restorative response to conflict or harm;
    ● to give others, like Stephen, an opportunity to make something good out of a bad decision;
    ● to demonstrate to schools, law enforcement, and justice systems the power of restorative solutions, instead of punishment and isolation.

    These are ambitious goals, but with your help we know we can reach them. We are grateful for your support, and the support of our communities that continue to embrace the promise of greater access to restorative justice solutions. With your help, we will be able to continue this work, together and stronger. 

    Please give as generously as you can. You may give on line here or by mail:  RJP Maine, P O Box 141, Belfast Maine, 04915

    With Gratitude,
    Kathy Durgin-Leighton
    Executive Director

    *Update – our referrals for youth in need continue to increase. Last week on June 13 & June 14, we received another 7 referrals – all young boys between the ages of 13 years and 15 years.  Since July 1, 2023, over 50 youth in need have been referred to us. This represents the largest number in recent years.

    “Young people know who they are, and when given the chance to take responsibility, they show up and bring that power forward.”

    Community participant in a recent harm repair process