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Restorative Justice Project receives $1 million crime prevention grant

Community Justice Center pilot program planned
By Fran Gonzalez | Oct 19, 2019
Photo by: Fran Gonzalez Pictured from left are: State Rep. Pinny Beebe-Center, D-Rockland; District Attorney Natasha Irving; Sarah Mattox and Tim O'Donnell of Restorative Justice Project; Chief Deputy Jason Trundy; and Jenna Golub, Louise Marks and Carrie Sullivan, all of RJP.

Belfast — Restorative Justice Project announced Thursday it received nearly $1 million from a federal grant aimed at preventing and reducing crime.

The $924,307 community-based crime reduction grant was awarded by the Office of Justice Programs.

RJP also announced current Executive Director Carrie Sullivan, who wrote the grant, will assume leadership of the new four-year program, and the agency will seek a new executive director.

"Our vision is to mobilize a base of local resources that, when taken together, have power to reduce crime, victimization and system involvement. Working with our communities and partners, we plan to implement and test a model of Community Justice Centers across Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo counties, which make up Prosecutorial District 6," Sullivan said.

"Once an incident reaches the hands of law enforcement, we've often missed opportunities for prevention," she said. "Communities have the power to help prevent and reduce crime, so we all need to be involved in repair and solutions."

According to the grant, Community Justice Centers will build safety by increasing community engagement and building networks of care around the root causes of crime, especially in rural communities and for young adults.

District Attorney Natasha Irving described the effort as "re-imagining the justice system driven by what is driving crime."

The 48-month program kicks off the first year with planning by a steering committee with participants from Restorative Justice Project, University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service, the District Attorney's Office, Waldo County Sheriff Jeff Trafton, Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel A. Merry, Unified Corrections Officer Ray Porter for Waldo and Knox counties and Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center, State Rep. Pinny Beebe-Center, D-Rockland, and Aaron Park, business owner, Bath City Council member and RJP volunteer.

Beebe-Center said, "Across the Midcoast, similar efforts are already happening. The grant gives us the advantage of resources to intentionally support this growth and the invaluable partnership with the University of Southern Maine, which means we'll be measuring our impact as well."

RJP Chairman Jack Williams said, "We are indebted for the leadership Carrie has provided during the past several years, and through this critical juncture of the project's tenure. It's an exciting time for the organization, owed in great part to the work of its dedicated staff, volunteers and supporters who have been steadfast in their commitment for changing the way justice happens in our communities."

RJP has launched a search process to find a new executive director.

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