Since our last report, CCR has continued to serve juveniles, their families and their communities with mediation services. We have served 42 additional people in the last three months, which brings the total number of people served since the beginning of our project (Decebmer, 2013) to 213.
With your support, CCR offers an opportunity for juveniles, their families and community members to come together after an offense has occurred to talk about what happened, the harm created, and ways to repair the harm to those affected.Sometimes, we are not able to include affected community members, in which case we offier an opportunity for the juvenile and her/his parent to have a conversation. Those conversations have given struggling families a huge opportunity: the chance to talk, learn about each other and set a plan for communicating better in the future.
Without your help, we would not be able to provide these services in cases like the one described below:
Sam, 15, comes from a struggling family. His mother, Deeana, supports her three children with multiple part-time jobs. She’s not able to spend as much time at home with her son as she’d like. Resources are limited: Sam is responsible for taking care of his other siblings when his mother isn’t home, and his mother Deeana says she’s going to need him to get a part-time job very soon.
Sam was recently picked up by the police for tagging a CTA train with a group of friends. Sam was with six friends in total; all of them were minors and charged with vandalism.
JoAnn, an employee of the CTA, was present at the mediation, along with Sam and Deeana.
At the beginning of the mediation, Sam’s mother Deeana had a lot to share – she talked about what a good child Sam was, and how he’d done so well in school until last year. She addressed JoAnn repeatedly, apologizing for her son and explaining how hurt she was by the incident. She cried openly and said things like, “I didn’t raise you like this.” Sam stared at the floor for the first 30 minutes of the mediation, sharing nothing but “yeah” or a shrug when the mediator tried to engage him.
JoAnn talked about the expense incurred by the city to remove graffiti from CTA cars. She talked about how many people were arrested and charged with vandalism every year, and the legal costs incurred by the city associated with pursuing those cases. JoAnn explained that she appreciated the chance to have a mediation when a juvenile is involved in a first-time offense.
Without much interaction from Sam, the mediator chose to hold a private session with him. Sam finally opens up: he talks about his parents divorce three years ago and his father being admitted for psychiatric care at a local hospital. He hasn’t spoken to his father in over two years, and resents his mother for not being able to provide as much financially to the family as his father once did. He talks about how important his friends are to him: they are like his family.
After meeting with Deeana and JoAnn privately, the mediator brought everyone back into the same room. The case resulted in an agreement for Sam to write an essay on the topic of forgiveness and to submit it to JoAnn and Deeana. JoAnn also asks Sam to participate in a community service project facilitated by the CTA to clean graffiti from school buildings. Sam agrees to both of those things. His mother agrees to ensure he is able to attend the dates for the community service.
It's your support that gives us the opportunity to help families like this one have conversations and build enduring relationships. Thank you for what you do to help CCR and Chicago's families.