Ex-Inmate Joins the Peace Party

Kevin, 'Circles of Transformation'

“I learned what it meant to be involved with something positive, to show up when I said I was going to, to trust others enough to be honest and to share my experiences with others.”  As he sat across from me at a sunny table by the window at McDonalds on Noland Road, Kevin talked about his experience with ‘Circles of Transformation’, a restorative justice process that encourages people who have survived trauma to share their story.

Started by Community Mediation Center (CMC) Board Member Harold Johnson and CMC Director Diane Kyser, ‘Circles of Transformation’ is a six- week experience that helps prepare inmates for life outside of prison.  Kevin recalls that things had to come together for him, a certain age, a certain institution, certain circumstances, and the realization that he would spend the rest of his life in prison if something didn’t change.  Kevin believes in the value of circles, and was trained as a facilitator while inside.  He continues his association with Harold, Diane and Marti Resch, another CMC staff member, on the outside.

Kevin describes the people at CMC as “Real people wanting to help me be a good person”.  He told me he feels vulnerable since he got out, to the alcohol, drugs, self -hatred, despair and hopelessness of his other life but he knows he never wants to go back there again.  He wants to be a good influence for his 18 year- old daughter.  He thinks before he speaks and considers how his words and actions affect other people.

Kevin is looking for a band of people around him for support “A team of fellows to help one another get healthy and stay free”.  With Kevin’s input, plans are being made to have circles available for him and others transitioning from clear, strictly defined prison life, to the challenges, choices and sometimes chaotic pace on the outside.

Kevin’s struggles are intensified by his past, but his challenges are familiar to all of us.   He wants to be involved and show up, to be honest, to be a good person and trust others enough to share life with them.  Welcome to the Peace Party!

You are invited:  The Kansas City Restorative Justice Coalition meets monthly.  Call Diane Kyser at CMC, 816-461-8255 for more information.

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