Jackson County Judge and Prosecutor Join the Peace Party

County Courthouse, Independence

6/22/11

Yesterday Don Ivans, a thirty year veteran mediator, and I met with Judge Jeffrey L. Bushur from the Jackson County Missouri Circuit Court. The Community Mediation Center has been doing mediations for Judge Bushur for about a year.  Two mediators sit in court on Tuesdays and are available in the event that the Judge identifies a case he thinks is ripe for mediation.  Most of the disputes that go to mediation produce an agreement.  The judge tells the story of two young women who had an order of protection against each other, arrived in court very worked up, mediated the argument and came back before him an hour later the best of friends.  The Judge is thrilled with the results of mediation. 

This meeting was scheduled to include Prosecuting Attorney, Jeff Keal, to explore opportunities for the use of victim/offender dialogue in criminal cases.  Victim/offender dialogue is a Restorative Justice process in which, after careful and intense preparation, a victim has the opportunity to tell their offender how the crime affected them.  The victim can also hear from the offender about the incident and circumstances leading up to and following the incident.  Restitution to put things as right as possible is agreed upon and often the victim comes away with what they want most, a sincere apology for the wrong committed against them, and a promise that they will not be harmed in the future. The meeting ended with a plan to identify a case to use as a trial for the program.

In the Judge’s chambers, on a regular Tuesday, We met two public figures who recognize the value of encouraging offenders to take responsibility for their actions, who consider the rights and needs of victims and who are able to look beyond a retributive model of punishment toward helping to create a justice system that meets the needs of the whole community.  A powerful example of forward thinking innovation.  Welcome to the peace party!

You are invited!  Recognize that strong communities consider the needs of every member of the community, and work together toward that goal.

If you would like to support the work of the Community Mediation Center, follow the link!
www.communitymediationkc.org
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