Nashville moves toward restorative justice and community engagement

On Tuesday, a delegation of local officials working in the criminal justice system will travel to Oakland, CA to visit with sujatha baliga, vice president and director of Impact Justice’s Restorative Justice Project.

The delegation will include Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway, District Attorney General Glenn Funk, Public Defender Dawn Deaner, and Captain Gordon Howey of the Metro Nashville Police Department’s Youth Services Division, along with other staff.

The delegation will seek to learn more about best practices on implementing restorative justice programs that focus on constructive responses to wrongdoing that bring those who have harmed, their victims, and affected community members into processes that repair harms and rebuild relationships. Oakland has instituted a successful model of Restorative Justice that has decreased crime rates.

“I appreciate the dedication and commitment by the criminal justice officials in Davidson County to seek out solutions to making a more just and equitable system of restorative justice for our citizens,” said Mayor Megan Barry. “It will require all of Davidson County’s elected officials and Metro departments and agencies working together with the community, as well as with partners at the State and Federal level, to make positive and lasting changes.”

Metro Government intends to begin Restorative Justice pilot programs within its criminal justice system, beginning with the Juvenile Court. Judge Sheila Calloway will lead those efforts, with the support of Mayor Megan Barry and her Office of Neighborhoods and Community Engagement in order to continue implementing ideas from the Youth Violence Summit report in March of this year.

“We can’t afford to lose another generation to a vicious cycle of crime and poverty,” said Judge Calloway. “I appreciate the focus of Mayor Barry and my colleagues in the criminal justice community on how we can come together to create opportunity and hope for our youth – both to stop youth from ever being involved in crime, and to help restore the lives of our youth who have made mistakes.”

Additionally, in order to give the Nashville community a forum to show their support and condolences following the tragic deaths in Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas, Mayor Megan Barry will have cards in the lobby of the Historic Metro Courthouse beginning on Tuesday, July 12 through Tuesday, July 19 for the public to sign with messages of condolences. Similarly, cards will be placed in Nashville Public Library locations that individuals can sign to be delivered to the Dallas Police Department and families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile from the city of Nashville.

“People all across America are grieving over the events of last week, and I believe this will be a meaningful way for the community of Nashville to come together and share our collective messages of love and support,” said Mayor Barry.

Throughout the coming days, weeks, and months, Mayor Barry and Metro Government will be working on ways to promote broader community engagement on topics related to restorative justice, criminal justice reforms, and how the Nashville community can work together ensure everyone feels safe, respected, and hopeful for the future.