As I reflect on this past year with Northern Arizona Restorative Justice (NARJ), I realize how significant the services of this organization have been for our community. Recovering from the pandemic, a priority for us is to reestablish relationships in education and the justice system while picking ourselves back up on our feet and continuing to move forward. I have confidence in the work that we do, as we have accomplished some critical steps toward our goals with the ability to strengthen and expand our services in Northern Arizona moving into the new year.
The challenges that we face can appear overwhelming. Some social scientists believe that less than 3% of the world’s population is fully healthy and functional because historically we live in shame based cultures and societies. Keeping the focus on blame, punitive responses instead of repairing the harm and inclusivity.
Inclusivity and repairing harm is at the heart of what we do. When this is the focus, healing is the result. This becomes the foundation of a healthy, functional community and fosters a sense of belonging.
In the past year, it was an honor to be able to document the implementation of restorative practice (RP) at the Oak Creek Elementary school in Cornville, AZ. The RP technique teaches children how to interact with each other, resulting in the growth and support of a stronger community. In the last 4 years, Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District (COCSD) has applied RP throughout the district and there has been a staggering 75% drop in suspensions. NARJ helped provide the tools necessary for this fundamental component.
We have brought on two board members who have been training and facilitating RP in the Flagstaff Unified School District (FUSD). Over the past two years, FUSD has been implementing RP in fifteen different schools!
Currently, we are working to reestablish our relationship with our very own Sedona Police Department, the new Police Chief, Yavapai County Probation and the Resource Officer at the Sedona Oak Creek Unified School District (SOCUSD) by requesting referrals for restorative circles dealing with conflict on campus or in our community.
This past August we were pleased to enter a new partnership with Yavapai County Detention Center to establish restorative circles in their Journey Program in Prescott, AZ. I witnessed the confidence grow and the joy on the kids faces after completing the program. Knowing they will have another chance to be a vibrant part of the community and have a future full of opportunity!
I am delighted to share that the beginning of 2023 NARJ will be in talks with Coconino County Juvenile Probation in Flagstaff, AZ to train staff and service families. We will post updates as we progress toward those goals.
There are some challenges that we will continually address. Part of the problem we have in the United States is that we are the leader in incarceration rates in the entire world! And we have the highest percentage of incarcerated at 25%! What we are doing is not working.
So we are excited for the prospect of returning to our work in the Yavapai County Correctional Facility in the Verde Valley. Pre-Covid, we had established a RP program that successfully saw inmates turn their lives around. Now, part of the facility will be remodeled to re-establish supporting programs.
Consistently when Restorative Practices are implemented there is a 88% success rate of non-recidivism in the justice system. We are an organization that contributes to that success!
One of our primary goals in this upcoming year is to implement RP in the Verde Valley school system. Sadly, our current high school dropout rate is 25%. We know our practices can change this trajectory with the solution of restorative circles. Our youth deserve a community that is engaged with their success.
Jeremy J Hawkes
Northern Arizona Restorative Justice
P.S. If you would like to know more about our organization/programs, volunteer or train to become a Restorative Justice facilitator, please contact us at: