Grassroots program to let Shelby County volunteers mete out justice

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Shelby County communities are about to get a bigger and more active role in the criminal justice process.

On Monday, District Attorney General Amy Weirich announced plans for a Community Justice Program.

It is a grassroots alternative to traditional prosecution, and it’s designed to restore victims and communities impacted by crime.

Participation by victims and offenders is voluntary, and cases will be heard by volunteers on Community Justice Panels.

“After hearing from a victim in a case involving theft or vandalism, for example, the panel might order restitution, community service and even an apology from the offender,” Weirich said. “The panel also will listen to offenders to see what help can be provided – education, job training, counseling – to make them contributing members of the community.”

The program is in Phase One, which is community engagement.

Weirich said the key to the program’s success will be the level of interest and participation in the community. Recruitment of volunteers and finding sites for the twice-monthly meetings is underway.

Among community leaders helping to shape the program are:

  • Deandre and Vinessa Brown of Lifeline 2 Success
  • Senior Pastor Ricky Floyd of the Pursuit of God Transformation Center
  • Child-wellness advocate Charlie Caswell, who is also Outreach Pastor at Impact Ministries Baptist Church

Other partners include Advance Memphis, Agape, HopeWorks, Memphis Urban League, Seedco and Youth Villages.