Communities for Restorative Justice expands program to Northborough

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(l to r) Margot Fleischman, President C4RJ Board of Directors, State Sen. Jamie Eldridge, C4RJ Executive Director Erin Freeborn and Northborough Police Chief William Lyver

Northborough – State Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) joined Northborough Police Chief William Lyver and Erin Freeborn, executive director of Communities for Restorative Justice (C4RJ), and Margot Fleischman, president of the C4RJ Board of Directors, to announce the expansion of C4RJ’s Restorative Justice program to the town of Northborough. Northborough is the first Worcester County community to practice restorative justice

Communities for Restorative Justice is a nonprofit that uses the method of restorative circle processes to brings together those responsible for crime and harm with those affected in order to bring about as much healing and transformative conversation as possible. By being diverted to a restorative justice and accepting responsibility for harm, responsible parties can avoid a criminal record that can be a barrier to someone going to college, getting a job, or remaining a productive member of society.

C4RJ took its first case in 2000 and has worked with over 800 offenders in the Boston Metropolitan Area.

“I am proud to be the Senate sponsor of Restorative Justice Legislation that became law in 2018,” Eldridge remarked. “My top priority was to increase commitment practicing restorative justice, one of the most effective, value driven practices that is meant to bring healing and understanding to victims and offenders. I am very pleased to see that it has been expanded to reach one of the communities in my district, Northborough.”

C4RJ works with police departments in a handful of Massachusetts communities: Acton, Arlington, Bedford, Boxborough, Cambridge, Carlisle, Concord, Groton, Lexington, Littleton, Stow, and Wellesley and now Northborough. The organization also accepts referrals from the courts.

“C4RJ is excited to welcome Northborough as our 25th partner police department and the first in Worcester County,” said C4RJ’s Executive Director Erin Freeborn. “I have been impressed by Chief Lyver and his leadership. He pursued restorative justice for his community and is setting the tone with department wide training. I look forward to the cases that will follow.”

C4RJ also works with interpreters to remove language barriers, and they partner with people in the community where a harm took place.

“Over a year ago, I placed participation in a Restorative Justice Program as a department goal, Lyver noted. “I did so after sitting in on C4RJ Executive Director Erin Freeborn’s presentation at a Massachusetts Police Accreditation Conference. It struck me as a positive tool to use with younger and lower level offenders in lieu of bringing them into the criminal justice system. I liked the idea of offering the victim a say in how we proceed against an offender, be it traditional criminal prosecution or an alternative avenue such as restorative justice. I’m looking forward to our partnership with C4RJ and the benefits that it offers our community.”