Slipping through our fingers

The loss of a long-awaited grant through a technicality has resulted in staff cutbacks at the Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast, one of our finest local nonprofits. I'm sure Margaret and Sarah and Denise and Tim, the hard-working staff members, would love to get a boost from the community they serve through some early spring donations. Please join me in sending support to Restorative Justice Project at P.O. Box 141, Belfast. Our greater community will be better off if we get together and support this positive program.

Positive, yes, for offenders who have been restored to lawful living, and also to the victims and community who have been harmed. It has been an important force in the lives of mentors and police officers who have collaborated in this socially restorative program. And do I need to mention the lower tax burden with fewer people occupying our jails?

My experience has been working alongside offenders doing community service with the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition, building bridges and maintaining trails, removing invasive species, and mixing congenially with offenders, their mentors, and our watershed volunteers. We have felt the added dimension of doing not only ecological restoration, but also engaging in restorative social ecology. Not only that, but their youthful energy has resulted in greater accomplishments in less time. It has been a very positive relationship for all involved.

We volunteers have learned that these young men (so far we have not had occasion to work with women) share the same feelings, hopes, sense of humor, pride in our work and congeniality as we do. They are the ages of some of our children, with just as much life ahead of them. Except for a big lapse in judgment, they are we ourselves.

The Restorative Justice Project has provided an alternative to jail time and its hurt, expense and recidivism. The Project also offers our schools solutions short of jail. The Project has helped our Community heal as offenders have engaged in deep and meaningful dialogue with the people they harmed. These conversations can only be guided by highly skilled mediators who do this as their life’s work. Without funding, we cannot hire them.

Let’s think about how our communities are different from the rest of the world. No doubt there are many reasons. For me, one of the greatest reasons is our care of our young people when they need us. When teens or inexperienced adults make a mistake, will we just let them automatically be swept into the criminal justice system? When it truly was a mistake, an error in judgment, will we incarcerate them with intentional criminals?

Now is the time to help the Restorative Justice Project. Their number is 338-2742 in Belfast if you can think of a way to help. Let’s not let them slip through our fingers!

Cloe Chunn

Swanville

Do you know where you live?

Do you know where you live? Do you know your political designation? Do you know the jurisdiction of laws to which you are subject? Most Americans fell asleep in civics class or avoided it and remain ignorant. In terms of knowledge of law, people have grown more ignorant than ever in our history. This is unfortunate for our nation.

The term of art "United States" has been defined by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Hooven & Allison Co. v. Evatt. 324 U.S. 671, "the term 'United States' may be used in one of several senses. It may be merely the name of a sovereign occupying the position analogous to that of some other sovereigns in the family of nations. It may designate the territory over which the sovereignty of the United States extends; or it may be the collective name of the states which are united by and under the Constitution." (for these thirteen United States of America.)

So what does this mean?

It means that there are at least three "United States" in America, maybe more, as the term of art denotes. We have the "sovereign" in the "family of nations" like the U.N., NATO, GATT, NAFTA and et cetera. International law is jurisdiction, no Bill of Rights or Magna Carta Libertatum involved.

We have "territory of United States." District like District of Columbia, Northern Marianna Islands, Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa or Puerto Rico, or District of ME, which is United States District postal zone territory, certainly not a state or even an English word. The law of District government prevails without true voting rights or privileges, subject to despotic rule of a Governor General.

Then we have the "collective name of states which are united by and under the Constitution," which is the Union of States of America, this is where the Bill of Rights and the Magna Carta, and common law prevail. This is the land of non-occupation, no hostile forces, the land of peace and prosperity, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where the desire for liberty and the pursuit of happiness prevail.

I know where I live and I declare it without hesitation, as appearances matter in a court of law.

Do you know where you live?

Patrick Quinn

Winterport