The People’s Assembly will soon be inaugurating what is known nationally as the Common Justice Model in the ongoing effort to diminish and eliminate violence in local communities.
The program was announced at the third in a series of People’s Assembly Community Conversations on Violence at Jackson’s Grove Park Community Center.
Common Justice Executive Director Danielle Sered spoke to the audience of 150 via Zoom from New York.
The Common Justice healing model places emphasis on the healing of the victim, individuals personally harmed, as well as family and the community that have been impacted by the harm. This restorative justice model is centered around victims’ services while also holding those who committed the harm accountable, providing support and resources to victims enabling them and the community most impacted by the violence to heal and remain safe.
Since 2018, the Jackson People’s Assembly has had two very successful programs that resulted from a high level of community involvement in the effort to lower the incidence of community-based violence, according to Rukia Lumumba, executive director of the People’s Advocacy Institute.
Many of the people present were the agents of change and took the initiative to set up their own operations against violence, she said.
The Strong Arms Credible Messenger Program and Operation Good Cure Violence Program experienced a strong measure of success in stemming youth violence and “interrupting” potential violent occurrences.
“We know community involvement is the answer to violence because we see it working firsthand,” Lumumba said.
“As community members, many of you in this room agreed that we were just going to start; we were just going to try it; we were just going to do it,” she said. “We weren’t going to wait for the City to tell us that they would support any funding. We found our own money, and we made it happen.”
“Finally in 2022, we got a commitment from the mayor’s office to create a Violence Prevention and Trauma Recovery Center.
“Now we have the Common Justice Model,” she added. “The Common Justice Model not only allows us to provide victim support services through healing, but it also introduces a restorative justice model that allows us to work with the harm-doers themselves to be held accountable for their harm, and to also make amends and to help heal our community and heal themselves so that harm will not happen again.”
Of the 36 youths referred to Strong Arms by Henley Young Youth Justice Court, ten were enrolled in the Strong Arms program. At least 70 percent completed the program and none were re-incarcerated. Twenty-six detained youth were served through the Strong Arms Mentoring Program. And 46 percent of those youth completed the 10-week Strong Arms Youth Leadership Covenant of Peace Program.
Similar positive results came from the Operation Good Cure Violence Program. This program “aims to stop the spread of violence by using the methods and strategies associated with disease control – detecting and interrupting conflicts, identifying and treating the high-risk individuals, and changing social/community norms resulting in reductions in violence of up to 70 percent.”
Workers in the Operation Good Cure Program engaged in door-to-door and block-to-block canvassing of their community for 9 months daily during evening and late-night hours. Their summer youth sports program and Community Unity Day in partnership with the Oak Forest Community Center were major successes.
They also provided monthly food/grocery support to families in need and mentored over 27 participants. Their efforts mediated, interrupted, or prevented 57 incidents. Most impressive of all is the report that they had a total of 213 days of no-gun violence in a 45-block zone.