and to Develop Restorative Justice Initiatives for Crime Victims
WASHINGTON (November 21, 2001) -- The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) announced the award of $500,500 in grants to support criminal justice reform and education programs in the United States. The grants, which are part of a $1.5 million initiative, will help fund 18 projects in 10 states and the District of Columbia.
The grants are the first phase of a program announced last November during the fall meeting of the Catholic bishops in Washington, D.C. In making the announcement then, Bishop John J. Leibrecht of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri, chairman of the CCHD Committee, said, "As the U.S. bishops prepared to discuss a Catholic perspective on crime and criminal justice, our committee felt that concrete steps were appropriate to put their concern into action."
Initial plans called for $1 million in grants to be awarded in two phases. After the review committee received applications requesting more than $4 million, the CCHD Committee decided in June 2001 to add another $500,000 to the program. The second round of grants will be announced in January 2002 and the third round will be awarded later next year.
CCHD already is one of the nation's largest funders of self-help programs for the poor. "Our work against poverty and social injustice sometimes has taken us to the edge of the criminal justice system," said Father Robert J. Vitillo, CCHD executive director. "These programs will enable us to focus some of our resources specifically and to determine how best we can help."
There was "great interest" in the grant announcement, according to Father Vitillo. "Not many foundations fund projects in the criminal justice area so we received many more worthy project proposals than we could fund. The fact that funding requests exceeded $4 million demonstrates the continuing need to support projects addressing criminal justice," he said.
The grants announced today range from $7,000 to $58,000. Among the 18 projects receiving grants are:
Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants, Inc. (CURE-Ohio). CURE is a national organization founded to reduce crime through criminal justice reform. A $35,000 grant will enable the Ohio chapter to continue its efforts to educate the public, judges and legislators about the need for responsible prison management, fairness and accountability in the parole process and the need for training for job and life skills in Ohio's prisons.
The Diocese of Beaumont, Texas. The diocese has within its boundaries the Texas Department of Corrections prison housing the Charles W. Terrell Unit, more commonly know as death row. The unit is home to approximately 450 death row offenders. The diocese will use the $15,000 grant to produce an educational video that shows the human side of the death penalty and its consequences in terms of victims and offenders.
Prisoner Rights Project of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Boulder Colo. A prison moratorium coalition works to reverse the trend of mass incarceration by reevaluating policies that fuel prison expansion. They will use the $30,000 grant to work for an end to private, for-profit prisons in Colorado and to debunk the myth that prisons are healthy economic development tools for rural areas.
The California Catholic Conference in Sacramento, Calif. The Catholic Conference will assess the church's continuing role in assisting families of the incarcerated and the services available to released inmates. They will use a $58,000 grant to seek ways for the Catholic Church to assist the state in operating a just corrections system.
"Although equal justice for all is the ideal, it's not available to everyone, as the project proposals clearly demonstrated," said Father Vitillo. "That denial of access may begin with a lack of education and employment opportunities and continue with inadequate legal representation and uneven sentencing guidelines. Often it doesn't end even after a sentence is served or rehabilitation is complete. Families and victims suffer along with the accused. At the same time, we also wish to promote projects that bring reconciliation between the victims and the perpetrators of crime."
"We know that we cannot make changes in the criminal justice system overnight," Father Vitillo said. "But, as Catholics and as Americans, we can no longer watch passively as crime and violence take a toll on our communities and our fellow citizens."
Additional information about the criminal justice grants.
Summaries of 2001 Phase One Criminal Justice Grants
New York State Catholic Conference, Albany, N.Y. ($7,500)
The Catholic Conference will distribute an additional 10,000 copies of their document, "Restoring All of the Fullness of Life," and create a Spanish-language version. They hope to educate the Catholic population more fully about alternatives to incarceration and to encourage greater use of drug treatment for low-level and non-violent offenders. They will sponsor a "best practices" conference at the Schuyler Inn, a hotel and catering site operated by the Altamont Program for discharged state prison inmates.
Fifth Avenue Committee, Brooklyn, N.Y. ($25,000)
The Fifth Avenue Committee, a community development group, works to advance social and economic justice in South Brooklyn. Their Developing Justice project will work to repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws, which impose mandatory life sentences on felons convicted of drug offenses. A leadership board consisting of ex-offenders and low- and middle-income people will lead the organizing efforts to create social change.
Abraham House, New York, N.Y. ($15,000)
Abraham House is a faith- and community-based program operating in the South Bronx since 1993. Founded by three Catholic prison chaplains, the program assists inmates, ex-inmates and their families to break the cycle of crime from grandparent to parent to child. They operate a resident program as an alternative to incarceration, an after school program for children of inmates and ex-inmates and a family center. They will use the grant to employ a skilled professional to help them find major funders to ensure the continuation of Abraham House.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, N.Y. ($35,000)
Catholic Charities and Justice Works, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and mobilizing a partnership of religious and secular grassroots groups, is concerned about the rapid expansion of the prison system in New York state. They will mobilize faith-based communities for action at the executive and legislative levels to change deficiencies in the state's criminal justice system, addressing such issues as the Rockefeller Drug Laws, the death penalty, the parole system and the use of solitary confinement
United Neighborhood Centers of Lackawanna County, Inc, Scranton, Pa. ($40,000)
The Scranton City Neighborhood Partnership for Restorative Justice is an umbrella organization for community-based organizations to address local juvenile crime and criminal justice issues. The project holds offenders accountable and challenges them to change their lives, reaches out to victims and rejects vengeance. The collaborative efforts involve a community nonprofit settlement house agency, individuals and families from the low-income population from six public housing developments and other organizations. The grant will help support salaries of a restorative justice planner and a community youth worker.
Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants, Inc, (CURE), Columbus, Ohio ($35,000)
CURE is a national nonprofit organization founded to reduce crime through criminal justice reform. CURE-Ohio focuses on educating the public, judges and legislators about the 1. need for responsible prison management, fairness in the parole process and training in job and life skills for prisoners. They are marshaling resources for a moratorium on executions in Ohio, parole reform and a reduction in the cost of prison-initiated telephone calls.
Archdiocese of Washington, Washington, D.C. ($35,000)
The grant will help the archdiocese establish an ombudsman position to assist ex-offenders by referring them to services and programs to meet their specific needs. With a growing coalition of service providers in the Washington area for ex-prisoners, the ombudsman represents the other essential element supporting ex-prisoners.
Death Penalty Information Center, Washington, D.C. ($25,000)
The Death Penalty Information Center is a non-profit organization serving the media and the public with analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment. The grant will help enhance a free, on-line death penalty curriculum for students and teachers. The death penalty curriculum encourages civic participation, critical thinking and the development of research skills among students using a topic of current interest.
Interfaith Coordinating Committee for Restorative Justice Policies, Washington, D.C. ($35,000)
The Interfaith Coordinating Committee grew from a meeting among six major Christian denominations desiring to become active in reform of the criminal justice system. The group hopes to expand to other denominations and to develop faith-based policy reform positions, educational materials, grassroots support and advocacy skills to convince elected officials that the public wants a "get smart" rather than a "get tough" approach to justice.
Families Against Mandatory Minimums Foundation (FAMM), Washington D.C. ($45,000)
FAMM is a national non-profit organization whose members include prisoners, their families, attorneys, judges, criminal justice experts, clergy, community leaders and concerned citizens. They advocate that judges should be free to use sentencing guidelines that allow judicial flexibility to apply sentences that are appropriate and proportionate to the offense. The grant will help them conduct 15 training workshops in key states that are receptive to sentencing reform
Grassroots Leadership, Charlotte, N.C. ($20,000)
This organization works for economic equity, racial justice and democratic citizen participation in the southern United States. Their Public Safety and Justice Campaign seeks to put an end to for-profit prisons as a step toward creating humane alternatives to incarceration. They believe that the profit motive may lead to reduced efforts to change behaviors, to treat substance abuse and to offer skills necessary for reintegration into communities.
Reconciliation, Nashville, Tenn. ($10,000)
Reconciliation provides support services to family members of Tennessee prisoners, including weekly support group meetings and children's and teen programs. They sponsor a guesthouse for visiting families, a summer camp experience and an Angel Tree program for prisoners' children. The grant will enable them to expand their Family Advocacy Project to educate family members about the administrative and legislative process in order to develop a group of family members willing to work on advocacy issues.
Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center (RMPJC), Boulder, Colo. ($30,000)
The RMPJC provides leadership and a base for grassroots action for prisoner rights, non-violence education, nuclear disarmament, international fair trade and environmental justice. The Prison Moratorium coalition works to reverse the trend of mass incarceration by reevaluating policies that fuel prison expansion. They want to end private, for-profit prisons in Colorado and to debunk the myth that prisons are healthy economic development tools for rural areas.
Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St Joseph, Inc., Kansas City, Mo. ($35,000)
Catholic Charities serves persons in transition from prison back into the community and their families. The Restorative Justice Project wants to facilitate community development of restorative justice initiatives and to offer direct services to a minimum of 500 offenders and their families in their reentry to help them become productive citizens and contributing family members.
Catholic Diocese of Beaumont, Texas ($15,000) The Diocese of Beaumont has within its boundaries the Texas Department of Corrections prison housing the Charles W. Terrell Unit, more commonly known as death row. The unit is home to approximately 450 death row offenders. Texas is a world leader in the application of the death penalty, having conducted 40 executions in 2000. The diocese will produce an educational video that shows the human side of the death penalty and its consequences in terms of victims and offenders.
Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Houston, Texas ($28,000)
The Texas Coalition desires reform of the criminal justice system and abolishment of the death penalty in Texas. The coalition includes people from faith communities, current and former prisoners and their families, victims of crime and their families and others who work within the criminal justice system. They want to educate Catholics in Texas about problems with the criminal justice system and the need for reform in the state.
California Catholic Conference, Sacramento, Calif. ($58,000)
The California Catholic Conference, which is composed of two archdioceses, 10 dioceses and two eparchies in California, will assess the church's continuing role in assisting families of the incarcerated and the services available to released inmates. They will seek ways for the Catholic Church to assist the state in operating a just corrections system.
Victims for Justice, Inc, Anchorage, Alaska ($7,000)
Victims for Justice is a community-based crime victim service offering services through the state to those whose lives have been affected by violent crime. The organization helps survivors cope with trauma and grief, ensures that the rights of victims are not ignored and advocates for change toward a balanced and restorative justice system. The Victim Advocate program seeks to increase offender accountability by providing ways for offenders to become more aware of how their actions have affected lives. The advocate will contact victims to explain options available to them in order to make the offender more aware of their side of the story.