Since 2005, the Travis County, Tx., sheriff’s department has enrolled hundreds of jail inmates in Resolve to Abolish Violence Everywhere, or RAVE, a restorative justice program that includes General Educational Development classes, victim-offender meetings, counseling and job assistance when inmates return to the community, the Austin American-Statesman reports. The program, which includes some faith-based counseling, is paid for with grant money and volunteer fundraising efforts.
More than 1,800 inmates are housed at the complex. Most have been accused of nonviolent offenses and minor felonies. Aout 162 inmates have participated in the 14-week RAVE program. Fifty-two have graduated. Five of the participants have returned to the criminal justice system for nonviolent offenses. “It’s not about them coming back to jail; it’s about them not coming back for violence,” says director Charyl Naron said. “That’s a win-win situation for the community.” Restorative justice is a philosophy that aims to help offenders and crime victims by viewing offenses not only as crimes against the state but also crimes against the community. The Austin program is the only one of its kind in Texas and one of only 15 such programs in the U.S., says Marilyn Armour, a restorative justice expert at the University of Texas.