Your generous funding would allow Mali Parke and Tarek Maassarani to continue to provide and expand restorative services to individuals who have experienced sexual violence in partnership the Network of Victim Recovery of DC and other local referral sources. It would also assist in building much needed capacity through apprenticeship opportunities for facilitators-in-training.
Founded in 2012 and serving over 750 individuals a year, the Network for Victim Recovery of DC empowers those harmed by crime to achieve survivor defined justice through a collaborative continuum of advocacy, case management, and legal services. All wrap-around services are free with the knowledge that low income and racially marginalized survivors face a steep climb to recovery (https://www.nvrdc.org/). In 2018, Mali and Tarek received a $3,550 mini-grant from the National Association for Community and Restorative Justice to pilot a new project training NRVDC staff and offering their clients with restorative options. Six clients have since pursued a restorative process and reported high satisfaction with the process. The cases also allowed one facilitator-in-training to complete an apprenticeship. Funding has since been depleted, while demand has grown, including from other DC area survivors support and advocacy organizations. Mali and Tarek seek additional funding to continue and expand these services.
NVRDC's Therapeutic and Advocacy Program has a 24-hour presence at Washington Hospital Center. Clients may also reach NVRDC through its hotline or be referred by agencies, organizations, or colleges and universities in Title IX cases. However, clients connect to NVRDC, staff are trained annually to identify clients interested in restorative services. These are referred to a qualified restorative practitioner to work with the client and case manager to assess the suitability and nature of a potential RJ process. Where suitable, the restorative practitioner will facilitate the necessary pre-meetings, restorative processes, and follow-up in close partnership with the client's case manager. Other referral sources may also be identified, and their client referrals provided with restorative services.
These restorative processes provide opportunity for dialogue, direct or indirect, and may include conferencing, circles, or restorative mediation. Regardless which process, there is equal care for and active involvement by both the client, those who harmed them, and relevant members of the community. The focus is on the human needs that led to and flowed from the harmful acts and how to support those needs toward repair, prevention, and reintegration whereas the criminal system focuses on the rules or laws broken and how to impose punishment. The process supports participants in reflecting deeply, expressing themselves, listening with empathy, taking responsibility, building resilience and self-awareness, identifying additional support and resources, making agreements, taking action, and engaging systemic roots of the harm.
NVRDC places no time limits on services so case closure is client driven. NVRDC is strongly committed to confidentiality and informed consent; the program will continue to follow relevant legal requirements and best practices.
$10,000 would allow Mali and Tarek to be compensated for facilitating another 10 cases, as well as apprentice another 2-3 facilitators-in-training.
Impact and Outcomes
The impact of crime on each survivor in the DC area has a socioeconomic and psychologic ripple effect on their family, social circle, and neighborhood. A coordinated effort to address the needs of that individual through restorative services alongside legal assistance, mental health, financial security, access to education, affordable housing, and additional options of recovery outside of formal systems are crucial to ensuring the survivor has the opportunity for recovery and empowerment.
Crime also impacts the harming individual whose participation in the criminal justice system may lead to incarceration and irreversibly compromise their long-term civil rights, as well as access to work, housing, financing, and other resources. Even when there are no criminal sanctions, they must live with the psychological consequences of their actions. A restorative alternative to the criminal justice system mitigates, or altogether avoids, these physical, socioeconomic and psychological impacts, while providing an opportunity to take accountability and build new competencies that prevent re-offending in the future.
Finally, crime affects the larger community through fear, distrust, and lost resources. In Restorative Justice, crime is an indication that something in the community is out of balance. In turn, RJ offers a community an opportunity to build relationships and trust, to minimize the costs of responding to crime, and to take collective responsibility for the health of the community.